“Lipedema Awareness Month: Empowering Lives”

Pear ShapedWHAT IS LIPEDEMA?  

June is lipedema awareness month. Mayo Clinic first reported this disease in 1940, but the condition remains largely misunderstood and underdiagnosed, highlighting the need for greater awareness and support. Chances are, you’ve encountered someone with lipedema, or perhaps you’re personally familiar with this condition. Lipedema, a chronic condition that leads to fat accumulation, is a reality for many women. It primarily affects the lower part of the body but can also occur in the upper arms. Unfortunately, it is often mistaken for obesity and misdiagnosed. Women with lipedema may also suffer from easy bruising, sensitivity to touch, and pain. Commonly, there will be a disproportionate distribution of fat with a more petite upper body and a larger lower body.

CAUSE OF LIPEDEMA

The exact cause of this condition is unknown, and it may have many causes. Heredity seems to be a significant factor in this disease. A family history of lipedema is often noted, and potential genes associated with the condition have been recently identified. Female hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, and perimenopause also seem to play a role in this condition. Other hormones, such as insulin and thyroid hormones, may also be involved.

LIPEDEMA OR LYMPHEDEMA?  lymphedema:lipedema

Lipedema and lymphedema are two distinct conditions. Understanding and differentiating between the two is essential to treating them effectively. Lipedema is primarily a fat-based disorder, while lymphedema is a fluid-based disorder. However, they have a relationship, and one condition can lead to another. This is why it is not uncommon for someone with lipedema to develop lymphedema.

Lipedema is bilateral and symmetrical, while lymphedema can be unilateral. When lymphedema is bilateral, the legs will not be the same size. The feet are not affected by edema in lipedema,  but they often are in lymphedema. Infections like cellulitis are more common in lymphedema than they are in lipedema. Furthermore, pain and sensitivity are usually associated with lipedema. It can become confusing when both lipedema and lymphedema are present, so a proper diagnosis by a knowledgeable medical provider can be helpful to guide treatment.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

lipedema awareness Weight gain connected to hormonal change is often associated with Lipedema. Early stages may not have any symptoms other than what looks like cellulite. As the disease progresses, the signs and symptoms become more apparent. Some of the characters associated with this are:

  • A buildup of fatty tissue in the legs and sometimes in the upper arms
  • Disproportion in shape, with a narrow waist and larger hips and thighs
  • Fatty tissue stops at the ankles or wrists, not affecting the hands or feet
  • Pain and discomfort in the affected limbs
  • The affected area feels different, cooler, and softer and can appear dimpled like an orange or mattress.
  • Limited mobility from the buildup of fatty tissue and the feeling of heaviness in the legs.
  • Joint pain, especially in the knees, is also common.

MANAGEMENT AND TREATMENT of Lipedema

Although there is no cure for lipedema, there are ways to manage and treat it. Solidea Capri

  • One of the most effective treatments is complete decongestive therapy (CDT), which combines manual lymph drainage, compression therapy, exercise, and skincare.
  • Compression garments can help reduce pain and discomfort in the limbs, improve mobility, and support the tissue of the limbs. Due to the sensitivity of lipedema, softer and milder compression is often best. Solidea’s line is a perfect example of a mild compression garment that is both effective and comfortable for those with lipedema.
  • Patients may also benefit from an anti-inflammatory and ketogenic diet.
  • Exercise and movement can help maintain weight and keep joints limber. It’s important to note that these management strategies may not completely eliminate the symptoms but can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals with lipedema. My friend Patty, who has lipedema, has a beautiful website, Lipedema Fitness.
  • Conservative measures can usually treat lipedema. In some cases, surgery may be an option. Liposuction can be used to remove inflamed fat cells. This procedure will help return balance to the proportion of affected limbs and reduce or eliminate symptoms. If you decide to pursue this method, make sure you seek out a professional who specializes in this disease.

SUPPORT 

Cathy Seo Lipedema SimplifiedDealing with lipedema can be challenging and confusing, but there is hope. Self-education is of utmost importance when managing this condition. While researching for this article, I discovered a remarkable organization called Lipedema Simplified. Founded by Catherine Seo, Ph.D., who deals with this condition herself, this organization provides a wealth of information and a supportive community dedicated to eliminating the stigma attached to this disease. By arming yourself with knowledge and connecting with others who understand, you can take control of your journey with lipedema.

 

Disclaimer – This blog is for general information purposes only. Furthermore, the information contained in this blog is not a substitute for medical advice – always consult a licensed healthcare professional for advice on your specific condition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>