Home Skin CareSkin health Lipedema: what is it, causes, symptoms and treatment

Lipedema: what is it, causes, symptoms and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

It is common for this disease to be little known and poorly treated by anyone, and even by health personnel, but given that its prevalence and incidence has been spreading at present, the search in relation to the causes and symptoms of this condition and, above all, what is the ideal treatment has been increasing considerably.

Lipedema is defined as an alteration in the distribution of fat located in the legs , mainly in women, which is considered by the World Health Organization as a chronic disease that affects fat cells, adipocytes, causing disfigurement of the legs that worsens with age and produces intense pain that can generate disability in severe cases. If you want to know more about this, we invite you to continue reading this FastlyHealarticle about lipedema: what it is, causes, symptoms and treatment .

What is lipedema

Lipedema was described since the 40s, reappearing again in this 21st century as a disease, described by the World Health Organization or WHO, as of 2018, intruded within the conditions of superficial fatty tissue of the skin. It is a condition that affects women in most cases and consists of a poor distribution of fat in the legs , usually affecting both from top to bottom. Commonly, lipedema is also known as the riding pants phenomenon or sore fat syndrome .

It is a disease that progresses over time to chronicity with multiple related origins:

  • Hormonal.
  • Genetic.
  • Inflammatory.
  • Nutritional.

As described before, this disease affects the cells that make up the fatty tissue or adipocytes, which begin to grow disproportionately until causing symptoms, which can become unbearable for the sufferer.

Unfortunately, lipedema is misdiagnosed, little known, and frequently confused with cellulitis, obesity, or lymphedema. If this condition is not properly diagnosed, it can lead to serious health problems, such as loss of mobility.

Causes of lipedema

Despite the fact that the cause is nonspecific, it is known that there are several influencing factors in the appearance of lipedema , which are the aforementioned as possible origins:

  • Hormonal.
  • Genetic.
  • Inflammatory.
  • Nutritional.

Many women who suffer from this disease have other women with the same condition in their family nucleus, states an article published in the Mexican Journal of Dermatology, this occurs in approximately 20% of the cases that suffer from this disease. These cases, moreover, are usually accompanied by hormonal alterations.

Likewise, hormones play a fundamental role in the development of lipedema which, in fact, usually begins during puberty and can worsen during or after pregnancy, after surgery or after menopause.

As relevant risk factors for lipedema we find obesity and hypothyroidism. In these other FastlyHealarticles we talk to you in more detail about these risk factors: Obesity: causes and consequences and Hypothyroidism: symptoms, causes and treatment .

Lipedema: symptoms and signs

Characteristic signs and symptoms of lipedema include:

  • Asymmetrical legs.
  • Increased volume in the legs.
  • Sensitive legs.
  • Very heavy legs, even much more than the rest of the body.
  • Usual cold on the thighs, caused by poor blood circulation in the area.
  • Problems losing weight with diet or exercise.
  • Blockage of the vessels of the lymphatic system after the excessive growth of fat cells.
  • Fluid buildup or lymphedema.
  • Increased sensitivity to pain that intensifies as the day goes on.
  • Pain on contact.
  • Appearance of bruises.
  • Fragility in the capillaries.
  • Thin ankles.
  • Slim hands.
  • Comparatively slim upper body.

Stages of lipedema

Before talking about treatment, it is important to describe the stages of lipedema :

  • Stage I: At this time the skin has a smooth and evenly thickened surface.
  • Stage II: the skin is uneven in terms of its surface, wavy or similar to what is known as orange peel, some thick knots are evident.
  • Stage III: the legs increase significantly in volume, their surface is rough and hard, the tissue has thick flaps.

Treatment of lipedema

At this time, so that the specialist can correctly diagnose and offer the best possible treatment to the patient, it will be necessary to provide the medical history, some tests such as blood tests, lower limb Doppler ultrasound, lymphography or other imaging tests. Thus, you will be able to give a diagnosis, indicate the stage of lipedema and indicate the most appropriate treatment for each patient.

The treatment is totally individualized adapted to each situation and risk factor or cause associated with the patient. Generally, for the treatment of lipedema , you will need:

  • Nutritional tips.
  • Physical exercise.
  • Healthy eating habits.

A totally effective pharmacological treatment for treating lymphedema has not been described, but it usually includes:

  • Physical means such as containment garments , which are a fundamental part of the treatment, since with them it is possible to reduce the accumulation of liquid.
  • Lymphatic drainage used primarily to relieve pain and stimulate lymphatic flow. In this other post from FastlyHealwe explain the benefits of lymphatic drainage for health .
  • Mesotherapy, pressure therapy, radiofrequency and electrotherapy.
  • Liposuction , which is recommended only for specific cases. With this procedure, the affected tissue is removed and symptoms are greatly reduced.

Lipedema: recommended diet

In most cases, people with lipedema will be overweight, so following a balanced diet will be essential when maintaining an adequate weight to promote the cure of this disease.

An optimal diet to treat lipedema will include:

  • Vegetable soup, smoothies or liquid foods to promote the elimination of fat.
  • Vegetables with high fiber content: this allows to avoid the production of more fat cells or adipocytes, these are also a source of liquid and minerals.
  • Fruits: since they have enough water to stimulate the elimination of fat. For its inclusion to be optimal, it should be included in 1 or 2 portions.
  • Proteins such as eggs, beef, chicken and fish: their administration allows the entry of amino acids into the body that stimulate the burning of fat and calories.
  • Complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, walnuts, barley, and quinoa all have fiber.

If you suffer from lipedema it is essential that you avoid the consumption of:

  • High salt content.
  • Alcohol.
  • Animal fats.
  • Simple sugars.

Although it is a complex disease, if it is diagnosed at the right time, it can be treated effectively, through the treatment described and eating habits such as these indicated.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Lipedema: what it is, causes, symptoms and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Skin, hair and nails category .

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