​Lipedema is a medical condition that is often confused with lymphedema. Lipedema occurs when extensive deposits of subcutaneous fatty tissue accumulates in both legs. This distribution of fat is generally located from the hips to the ankles. Hips develop fatty pads (“saddlebags”) and fatty tissue or skin folds overhang the ankles. The feet are not swollen. ​In cases where the arms are also affected by the proliferation of subcutaneous fatty tissue, the swelling extends to the wrist and hands are not swollen. It is common to see a massive fold of fatty tissue on the posterior aspect of the upper arm. Lipedema changes the shapes of the legs symmetrically. The legs are painful, even when applying light pressure; large bruises and starburst veins appear easily.

Lipedema Stages

Stage I: Skin surface is normal, tissues will begin to exhibit a smooth nodular texture.

Stage II: Skin surface becomes uneven and is described as coarse, nodular skin surface with larger fatty dimples begin to form on medial knee, upper thigh, and ankle regions of both legs.

Stage III: Changes in skin color occur and large, deforming fatty deposits are observed in the same areas described as stage II.

Therapeutic approach

While lipedema fat deposits are not caused by being overweight, patients with lipedema who have tried to lose weight with extreme diets can not change the bulkiness of their legs. Experts recommend exercising while wearing compression garments, plus dieting will produce positive effects.

Specialists recommend therapy combined with compression garments and exercise for all three stages of lipedema.