Spreading  the  word  about  this  hideous  disease is  something  near  and  dear to me,  since it is pretty much unknown by most physicians. It has robbed me of my career and a  lot  of  my mobility and is the end result of a poorly functioning lymphatic system since childhood.

 

What is lipedema?

Lipedema is progressive disease which occurs  almost  exclusively  in  women.  There is little known about the disease  and,  worst  of  all,  there  is  no  cure.  (As of this date, there have been two known cases diagnosed in men.)  It presents as  symmetrical  accumulation  of  fat  in  the  subcutaneous  tissue  that  disproportionately affects the lower limbs from buttocks to ankles.  The  legs may also be sensitive and prone to easy bruising.  In some cases, the upper arms can  also  accumulate  distinct patterns of fatty tissue. A genetic component to the disease is suspected, and other possible causes include metabolic, inflammatory or hormonal involvement.

 

Until a few years ago, there was no research being done,  despite  being  discovered  in  1940 by Drs. Allen and Hines  of  the  Mayo  Clinic.  However, despite being recognized for over 75 years, many physicians still do not recognized it and generally misdiagnose it as simple obesity.  It  is  only  recently  that  interest  and education about lipedema is gaining awareness. It is estimated that 11% of women have the diesase.

 

Thank you very much to Lipedema Products for the use of these illustrations.

Stage 1

1. Skin is smooth

2. Swelling increases during the day and may resolve with rest and elevation

Stage 2

1. Skin has indentations
2. Lipomas may develop
3. Eczema and skin infection may be present
4. Swelling increases during the day, with less resolution after rest and elevation

Stage 3

1. Hardened connective tissue has developed
2. Swelling is present consistently
3. Large masses of skin and fat overhang

Stage 4

1. Extensive hardened connective tissue
2. Swelling is present consistently
3. Larger masses of skin and fat overhang
4. Also known as lipo-lymphedema

Do you recognize these symptoms in yourself? Learn more about lipedema on my site, lipedema.one.

 

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