What is lipedema vs. lymphedema?

Lipedema and lymphedema have a lot in common. They’re both frequently misunderstood and misdiagnosed. While there are differences between the two conditions, conservative (nonsurgical) treatment is the same, and often patients with lipedema will have lymphedema as a result of lipedema damage.

What Is Lipedema?

Lipedema is a connective tissue disorder that doctors and patients sometimes mistake for obesity as it results in formation of fat deposits. This is why it’s often referred to as “the disease they call fat” — it involves fat, but not necessarily obesity.

Lipedema tissue is most commonly found in the hips, legs, and upper arms. The typical lipedema patient is a woman whose hips and legs are out of proportion to the rest of the body and seem to continue gaining fat tissue despite standard interventions like exercise and a healthy diet.

Lipedema tends to occur bilaterally and is symmetrical. There are four stages of lipedema based on its progression, and five types of lipedema defined by the affected region or regions of the body.

Up to 17 million people are thought to have lipedema in the U.S., although its confusion with other conditions like obesity and lymphedema suggests that this estimate may be far too low. Thousands or even millions of people with lipedema might not even know they have it.

Read the full article here.

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