If you are reading this article you may be asking “what is Lipedema”? Or you may be someone who already suffers from this condition and are seeking to find out more answers or get help from a medical professional. Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jaime Schwartz of Beverly Hills is highly knowledgeable and a specialist on Lipedema therefore can help with treatment options and give women relief from this painful disorder.
Lipedema, also known as “painful fat syndrome” is an abnormal buildup of fat cells mainly concentrated in the legs, buttocks, stomach area, hips or thighs and has also been seen in the arm area of some women. Those suffering from this disease, overtime, notice a change in their aesthetic appearance, even with a healthy diet or regular exercise, which causes frustration, stress, pain, and discomfort. But more importantly, it causes disproportionate body parts.
Here are some important facts that Dr. Schwartz wants you to know about this progressive disorder so that he can help you get early intervention, if possible, or corrective treatment in order to improve your quality of life. He is here to give Lipedema patients, whether in Beverly Hills or miles away, hope for treatment.
Top 10 Facts About Lipedema
1.) It’s not about being overweight
As stated above, Lipedema is a chronic condition for women. Though it can occur in men as well, Lipedema mostly affects women. While this condition can sometimes be associated with women who are overweight or obese, weight is not the single factor in this condition. In fact, many women who are not overweight and who live a healthy lifestyle can still get Lipedema. It has been seen in women of all body types and sizes. It has even been seen in women that are underweight so even though it revolves around an issue with fat cells do not be mistaken that it only affects women who are overweight or obese.
2.) These are not your everyday fat cells
Lipedema is a condition revolving around fat cells and how the body processes them. It has been described as “fat with fluid” so women with this condition have fat cells in their body that have an added factor of excess fluid in them. It is often misdiagnosed as it often mimics the issue of a unhealthy lifestyle or weight issue for those women who are overweight or obese but it is more than that.
3.) It’s a clinical issue, not a lifestyle one
Lipedema is not a diet or exercise issue for the women that suffer from this condition. A women’s caloric intake doesn’t affect this clinical issue. No matter how much a woman may workout or try to eat healthy Lipedema fat cells don’t respond therefore won’t change in the size or how disproportionate a women’s body is from this condition.
4.) It’s bilateral--If one leg is affected, the other one is too
Another important factor to consider about Lipedema, since it typically goes undiagnosed, is that the fat cells that have this build up of fluid are symmetrical, therefore a woman will experience the same issue on both hips, both calves, both arms, etc. It is a bilateral condition so it shows up as the same amount of swelling or fluid in both body parts that are affected.
5.) Lipedema is a genetic condition
Various clinical research studies on Lipedema have shown that this is a genetic disorder. A woman’s lineage has shown that if they suffer from this condition it was also something seen in their mother or grandmother. Males can also be carriers, therefore, their daughters can inherit the Lipedema disease.
6.) Hormones are the main cause for the onset of Lipedema
The main component that research on Lipedema has found is that hormones are the driving force behind this condition showing up in women. Those who have inherited this disease usually have occurrences of it around puberty, after pregnancy, or when experiencing perimenopause issues. Therefore, many aspects of a woman’s life that are hormone-driven or when a flux of hormones is apparent, can cause a lipedema flare-up. It has also been seen in women who have experienced major periods of stress or a traumatic life event that would cause a spike in hormones causing distress which then causes the onset of the Lipedema condition.
7.) It’s a progressive disorder
Lipedema is a progressive disease. It is usually slow to progress, but eventually over time if not treated it can restrict mobility and increase in pain for women who suffer from this condition. It progresses into 4 stages and then can become life-threatening if it develops into Lymphedema (the most advanced and severe stage).
8.) The stages of Lipedema
Stage I - During this stage, it is very important to get early intervention treatment if possible. Skin, affected by Lipedema, is still untouched by the condition, therefore, hasn’t lost its elasticity or been weighed down from swollen fat cells for a long duration. In this stage, women will notice a disproportionate area (for example, when a woman’s lower half is twice as large as her torso or she appears “pear-shaped” in appearance). There is some discomfort associated with this stage but if in a concentrated area, such as the legs, compression socks or garments can be worn for temporary relief. Seeing a specialist in the Beverly Hills area, like Dr. Schwartz, in Stage I will give a woman relief but also help this condition not progress into the other stages or get worse.
Stage II - This next phase of this disease shows signs of the skin changing that is affected by Lipedema. Most of the time it is mistaken as cellulite, but Lipedema fat cells look different cosmetically, therefore, appear blotchy or flecked with a patterned appearance. Also as Lipedema progresses it can cause swelling to happen more in the affected areas and last longer. The body stops breaking down fat but still produces an excessive amount of lymphatic fluid in those areas of the body. Women in this stage of the disease can still respond well to treatments just like those in Stage I.
Stage III - This phase of Lipedema shows a considerable change with the areas affected as the fat cells is hard to touch or nodular. Women experience more pain in this stage as they are continuously swollen in those areas which cause the area to be heavier affecting the skin and joints. The fat cells are filled with more fluid, that hang in folds of skin, for longer periods of time. Most women find in this stage that compression garments and other techniques that used to work to relieve swelling or pain no longer seem effective.
Stage IV - This phase of Lipedema, if not treated, is the progression to life-threatening consequences. All aspects of this condition are severe with constant swelling or pitted edema present (swollen skin that if pressed leaves an indentation), skin in affected areas is very hard and thick and physical mobility is completely limited causing other health problems. If left untreated, then Lipedema in this stage can turn into Lymphedema.
9.) Lymphedema explained
Lymphedema is the advanced stage of Lipedema where the Lipedema fat cells are so enlarged and hardened that they can cause blockage limiting lymphatic drainage (the fluid buildup in the Lipedema fat cells) which slows down the blood flow to those areas. All the conditions of Lymphedema lead to trade off of other medical concerns like blood clots, poor circulation and skin infections due to not healing properly. Other life-threatening issues arise, as well as a woman’s mental health is comprised when struggling with this disease.
10.) There is hope
While we have provided a number of important facts about Lipedema, the most important one we hope you will take away from this article is that you are not alone and there is hope. New treatment options, methods, and techniques can help manage this condition and improve your quality of life--especially when diagnosed early.
Lipedema is a complex condition for women and one that should not be mistaken as cellulite or a weight issue. More common than you think, Lipedema is a condition that affects about 11% of the U.S. population or about 17 million women. Unfortunately, a genetic condition triggered by a woman’s hormones makes this disease difficult to prevent, but it can be treated and managed, and relief is possible helping the overall physical and mental health of someone dealing with Lipedema.
A first step can be taken by making a diagnostic appointment with Dr. Jaime Schwartz of Beverly Hills who is a trained expert and Lipedema specialist. He can get you back to living a quality life even when living with Lipedema.