What is Lipedema?
Lipedema is a chronic disease that occurs when excess fat accumulates in the lower extremities of the body. Lipedema fat it is not smooth. It feels gelatin like with pea-sized nodules. Lipedema mainly affects the calves, thighs, and buttocks. The condition does not affect hands or feet. In later stages lipedema may spread to other parts of the body such as the chest, torso, abdomen, and upper extremities of the body. Lipedema may be confused for lymphedema and although they are different, lipedema over time may lead lymphedema. A condition that develops when lymph vessels are damaged, or lymph nodes are removed leading to an abnormal collection of high protein fluid beneath the skin.
What are the causes of lipedema?
The main cause of lipedema is hereditary. Affecting an approximal 16 million women (about the population of New York) in the U.S alone. Mostly occurring during hormonal shifts like puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Lipedema is not caused by obesity. More than half the people with this condition are overweight or obese. Even after making conscious lifestyle changes patient tend to lose weight in other parts of the body yet the affected areas stay the same or continue to grow. What are the symptoms of lipedema?
Symptoms of lipedema include: Easy bruising Pain Fat deposits build up on lower extremities of the body Loose skin Heavy extremities due to fat build up affecting the person's ability to walk Trouble coping and emotional symptoms such as anxiety, embarrassment, and depression as body parts continue to enlarge.
How is lipedema diagnosed?
Lipedema diagnosis can be made based on symptoms, clinical exams, and imaging such as ultrasound MRI, lymphangiography and/or lymphoscintigraphy may be useful.
How is lipedema treated?
Lipedema can be treated by symptom and progression management using the following treatments:
Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT): is helpful for easing painful symptoms and prevent fibrosis. CDT involves Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD). MDL uses rhythmical, gentle pumping movements to stimulate and increase the flow of lymph fluid from blocked to healthy vessels where it can effectively drain into the venous system reducing and eliminate excess fluid and swelling that come with lipedema.
Compression Treatment: Uses stretch bandages, compression garments or pneumatic compression device to increase tissue pressure and reduce fluid buildup from reoccurring.
Therapeutic Exercises: Helps with weight loss, improve overall health, reduce fluid buildup, maintain, or improve mobility and how your legs work.
Nutrition: Maintaining a healthy weight and weight loss may help keep symptoms of lipedema under control. Those who are over wight or obese and have lipedema are more likely to have pain and mobility problems. Healthy nutrition may also help reduce the risk of other conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Surgery: In some cases, liposuction methods that specialize in lipedema maybe used. These techniques include tumescent anesthesia (TA) liposuction and water assisted liposuction (WAL) for removal of large deposits of affected tissue.
Image via www.lymphaticnetwork.org