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Lipedema is a complex and misunderstood medical condition presents as disproportionate fat accumulation typically beginning from the hips and extending to the ankle, arms and other parts of the body. This fat is resistant to diet and exercise makes it difficult for the patients to loose fat even after doing vigorous exercises.

Causes of Lipedema

The exact cause is not clearly known but the female hormones are suspected to play a crucial role in its onset. It often begins or worsens at puberty, during pregnancy, after gynaecologic surgery and around the time of menopause. Also upto 60 percent of patients suffering from lipedema has a family history of the disease.

Lipedema often confused with obesity and lymphedema

Lipedema is a serious medical condition and often confused with obesity, lymphedema. In initial stages It might seem like a cosmetic concern for the patient, but eventually it causes body pain, easy bruising, deterioration of joints, increase in spider veins and varicose veins, , heaviness of legs and thighs, impair mobility and quality of life . In later stages of the disease it can have a classic “column-like leg” appearance with masses of nodular lumps, easy bruising, and pain.

Symptoms of Lipedema

1. Swelling in buttocks, thigh, legs and sometimes arm
2. Easy bruising in the buttocks, thigh, leg and arm
3. Non pitting edema
4. Pain in the fatty regions
5. Knee and other joint problems leading to gait impairment
6. Spider and varicose veins

Types of Lipedema

Depending upon the distribution of fat in body lipedema are of five types:

• Type 1: lipedema tissue around hips and buttocks
• Type 2: Hip to knees, with formation of folds of fat around the inner side of the kne
• Type 3: Hip to ankle
• Type 4: Isolated lower leg
• Type 5: involvement of arms, forearm

Stages of lipedema

In terms of severity lipedema are characterised by four stages:

Stage 1: smooth soft skin
Stage 2: skin indeted over palpable pearl size nodule
Stage 3: folds forms over large fat masses
Stage4 : whole limb swelling known as lipolymphedema

Treatments for Lipedema

Though it’s a relatively common condition, there are only few physicians who are aware of it. As a result, patients are often misdiagnosed with lifestyle-induced obesity, and/ or lymphedema.
While there is no cure for lipedema, conservative management such as compression therapy, lymphatic massages and special exercise programs slow the progression of the disorder and help in alleviating the symptoms
In severe cases liposuction is needed to address the excess fat tissue.