What is lipedema and how is it treated?
What is lipedema?
Lipedema causes an abnormal buildup of fat cells on the legs and arms that cannot be broken down by diet or exercise. It is often misdiagnosed as lymphedema or obesity.
The exact cause of lipedema is unclear. It’s not due to being overweight – you can be at a healthy weight and still be. Sometimes lipedema is familial.
It can be caused by changes in your hormones:
What are the symptoms?
Lipedema is more common in women. It usually affects both sides of the body the same way.
Possible symptoms can include:
Heavy legs, narrow waist and much smaller upper body.
Wide stockings, thighs and lower legs, but the feet will usually not be affected.
It can also affect the arms, but the hands are usually not affected.
The affected skin is soft and cool and may be padded.
Pain, tenderness, or heaviness in the affected limbs can easily cause bruising.
Lipedema can also cause joint problems, which can make walking difficult.
This can be a difficult condition to experience, with some patients feeling anxious or depressed.
What are the treatments ?
There is currently no cure for lipedema, but there are things that can help and prevent it from getting worse. Treatment will depend on the severity of the symptoms.
The main treatments are:
eat healthy, do more exercise and try to maintain a healthy weight.
wear compression stockings or bandages to reduce pain and discomfort.
take care of the skin by regularly using a moisturizer to prevent it from drying out.
cognitive behavioral counseling / therapy (CBT).
a procedure to get rid of fat
If symptoms are particularly severe, surgery may be needed, but it may not be available on the NHS.
Learn more about the symptoms of lipedema and other conditions that can cause swelling in the legs.
Where can you get help?
Getting support and talking to someone can help if lipedema is affecting your quality of life.
Lipedema United Kingdom and Talking about lipedema can provide help and advice.
They can also help come in contact with other people with lipedema.