Lipedema – The fat that’s not your fault!

Lipedema is a relatively common fat disorder that affect up to 11% of women. For reasons not yet known, fat is abnormally distributed usually in the buttocks, hips, legs and occasionally the arms. Although it begins as a cosmetic concern, it can eventually cause pain and other problems. In fact, lipedema is sometimes called The Painful Fat Syndrome. Lipedema can be mistaken for regular obesity or lymphedema, however, there are many distinguishing features of Lipedema. In Lipedema, usually the midriff area is spared, so there is a disproportionate enlargement of the lower body as compared to the upper body. Also the lower legs tend to take on a columnar shape w swelling to the ankle, but the foot is usually spared. There are other classic findings, as well.

One hallmark of Lipedema is the fat is relatively unresponsive to diet and exercise. The skin tends to bruise easily and the consistency of the skin can become soft and spongy. Currently, the cause for lipedema is unknown and there are no definitive treatments, other than a specialized type of lymphatic sparing liposuction, but insurance companies consider liposuction a cosmetic procedure, so it is not covered by insurance.