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In general, Lipedema is a poorly understood disease in the United States; statistics show it is markedly under-diagnosed in this country. Lipedema is a painful fat disorder that, if untreated, can cause multiple health problems leading to mobility issues. The quality of life, emotionally and physically, for a Lipedema patient often suffers because the disease is typically dismissed as simple obesity.
How often have you seen a woman who appears to be a size 8 or 10 from the waist up and a size 18 or more from the waist down with unusually large, column-like legs? Women who have this body profile more often than not are exhibiting classic early stage Lipedema. As Lipedema progresses, fat will increase in the lower body. Unfortunately, Lipedema patients tend to gain weight in the lipedemic areas, and can only lose it in the non-lipedemic areas. Even bariatric surgery will only result in fat loss primarily from the waist up. Lipedemic fat cannot be exercised or even starved away.
Lipedema is a disorder of adipose tissue that occurs almost exclusively in women; it has also been called ‘painful fat syndrome’. (Although Lipedema affects mostly women, there are a few cases that have been seen in men.) Typically there is abnormal bilateral and symmetrical swelling of the legs and hips that extends down towards the ankles where the fat forms a ring just above the ankle. This swelling is due to accumulations of fat and fluid in the tissues under the skin. Fatty bulges can be seen on the outer surfaces of the thighs and sometimes the upper arms are affected as well. Interestingly enough, the swelling often extends from the waist down, almost in a distinct line toward the ankles, with the feet remaining unaffected. This disorder can be inherited; most cases gradually develop during puberty, although it may develop or worsen due to trauma, such as surgery, peri-menopause or pregnancy. Lipedema has been seen in morbidly obese people and in anorexic individuals. It may be possible to limit the effects of Lipedema, through careful weight management, if diagnosed early enough. There are estimates that put the incidence of lipedema as high as 11% of the adult female population. We are talking millions of women here.