About Lipedema

Lipedema is a medical condition that millions of women have inherited.

Lipedema is generally unknown to medical providers and isusually confused with obesity.  Lipedema involves abnormal fat deposition that can result in pain, immobility and lymphatic disturbances. With obesity reaching epidemic proportions and anti-fat bias prevalent in healthcare, it becomes critical that patients are correctly diagnosed and that resources are invested in understanding this disease and how it can be treated

What does Lipedema look and feel like?

It occurs almost exclusively in women.  There is a genetic component on the maternal side of the family.  You may see Lipedema in a grandmother, aunt, sister.  Hormones are thought to play a role and can be a trigger.

A typical Lipedema patient usually has large hips and legs that are out of proportion to the rest of her body. (Can also be in the arms).

The swelling is bilateral (both limbs) and symmetrical (even) and goes from the waist to the ankles and will form a cuff at the ankle, leaving the feet unaffected.

As Lipedema progresses, pain tenderness and swelling increase while mobility decreases

One of the hallmarks of the disease is that Lipedema fat is relatively unresponsive to diet and exercise. Which means you may lose weight in the abdomen but not in the arms and legs.

Swelling in the limbs may increase during the day but does not usually cause pitting edema.

Patients often say they have pain and tenderness in the fat.  They can bruise easily.

If Lipedema progresses, patients can also develop Secondary Lymphedema (Lipo-lymphedema), venous insufficiency and fibrosis

Treatment can stop the progression!!

Treatment Approach

  • Combined Decongestive Therapy (CDT) which consists of Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD), bandaging, skin care and exercises.
  • Compression garments (most need to wear compression 24hrs /day to hold on to the benefits of CDT/MLD). The garments will not reduce the fat but they will help move lymph through the lymphatic system and help reeducate the fat by sculpting it over time.
  • Diet.  There are a few popular diets - anti-inflammatory, RAD diet and a new one called the keto diet which shows a lot of promise.  Even though Lipedema fat is more resistant to weight loss, diet is still very important because patients who are obese AND have lipedema will have significantly more problems with pain and mobility.
  • Exercises including deep breathing, water walking, Aqua Lymphatic Therapy, walking outdoors while wearing compression, rebounding.
  • Pneumatic compression pumps ... these are so expensive I hate to even mention them...
  • Supplements (please see a qualified practitioner familiar with fat disorders).  Some suggestions are selenium, bioflavonoids, butchers broom, Horse Chestnut seed extract, Wobenzyme, Vitalzyme and liver support.  You can also search you-tube for a symposium by Dr. Karen Herbst and Linda Kahn, its worth watching.