What is Lipedema?

Also known as “Lipoedema” in Europe and less commonly lipodema, in a nutshell Lipedema is a disorder of adipose tissue, that targets predominately women. It can affect both obese and anorexic women. The characteristics of this disorder are recognisable as the top half of the woman is usually slim (although the arms can be affected to a degree), but there can be a huge difference in the size of the lower half . Below the waistline can be disproportionately larger and the legs can be pillar shaped. The feet and ankles are not affected and this is a telltale sign of the disease – the swelling stops just above the ankle forming a noticeable ring. It is thought that as many as 6 million women in the US alone have Lipedema, some of which no doubt have been diagnosed mistakenly as suffering with obesity. The affected areas can be painful with the discomfort affecting both legs equally. The hips, thighs and calves swell with accumulation of Lipedemic fat. As this fat contains a lot of fluid, it can build up throughout the day, causing a feeling of heavy legs. Compression socks and tights may not be tolerated due to the pain associated with Lipedemic fat. It is unfortunately a problem that progresses, Lipedemic patients tend to gain weight on the problematic areas and if weight is lost, it is lost from the non lipedemic areas. This is why Lipedemic fat cannot be dieted away and exercise will not shift it. At the moment, Lipedema is not treatable, but the earlier diagnosis is made the better, since diet can help to keep additional weight gain at bay. As it is still not widely recognised in the US, the patient may suffer for a long time before diagnosis is made. There are other ways Lipodema can be managed, manual lymphatic drainage...