What is Lipedema

Lipedema is a chronic condition where the body produces a buildup of adipose tissue (fat) in the legs and/or arms.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain with pressure (hurts to have a massage, hurts when a dog steps on your legs, etc)
  • Nodules/Bumps that are palpable and sometimes visible
  • Easy bruising
  • Often feel that their legs and/or arms are a different size than the rest of their body
  • No matter how much exercise or healthy eating it doesn’t seem to change the shape of the limbs
  • Both legs and/or both arms are affected (not just one side)

Who Gets Lipedema and Why?

Lipedema occurs almost exclusively in females. There is likely a genetic component to it as well. Many patients will say their mom, grandma, or aunt had legs that looked like theirs. The cause of lipedema is still being researched but experts believe there is a hormonal component. 

Often patients will say their legs started changing around puberty, during a pregnancy, or in menopause. Patients often comment that they have always had larger legs than other girls no matter how much they worked out or dieted.

Is Lipedema the Same as Lymphedema?

No.  Lipedema is a fat disorder and lymphedema is a disease of the lymphatic system.  Often patients with lipedema will start to see swelling.  We call this “Lipo-Lymphedema”.  This is where the fatty deposits under the skin, overtime, start to cause the lymphatic system to not work as efficiently. 

What Can I Do for My Lipedema?

Working with our certified lymphedema therapists (CLT) can help manage your symptoms.  Your therapist will teach you how to perform manual lymph drainage (MLD) as they perform the technique on you.  This can help flush excess fluid and stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system to help with pain.  Lightweight compression usually in the form of leggings can help with symptoms. Bioflect and CzSalus are two brands specifically designed for patients with lipedema.

Unfortunately as of right now there isn’t a way to remove the adipose tissue other than through liposuction.  If you decide you want to look into this option you will want to get a referral for a surgeon that specializes in liposuction for lipedema.