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What is Lipedema?

Lipedema is a chronic medical condition characterized by a symmetric buildup of adipose tissue (fat) in the legs and arms. A common but under recognized disorder, lipedema may cause pain, swelling, and easy bruising. It is often called "the painful fat syndrome." It may be accompanied by an unusual texture within the fat that can feel like rice, peas, or walnuts beneath the surface of the skin.  The tissue texture is often soft and supple and can look like and feel like marshmallows underneath the skin. The intensity of pain may range from none to severe, and its frequency may be constant, come and go, or only occur when the fat is pushed on.  Lipedema is also thought to have a component of connective tissue disease, which is why it is often accompanied by pain.  Common symptoms include fatigue, muscle pain, or easy bruising.

Who Gets Lipedema?

Lipedema occurs almost exclusively in females, with rare reports of development in men. 

What Causes Lipedema?

The causes of lipedema are not well understood. It is reported to start or worsen during puberty and other periods of hormonal changes, such as pregnancy and menopause. Research is underway to determine the biological role of hormones, genetics, inflammation, and metabolism in the condition’s development.  Although the research is ongoing, it does appear to have a genetic component. 

Is It Obesity?

No. Obese fat occurs throughout the body. In lipedema, the fat occurs in the limbs, sparing the hands and feet. People with early-stage lipedema typically do not have diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure.

Is it Lymphedema?

No. The swelling in lymphedema often affects only one side of the body, and includes the hands and feet. Furthermore, lymphedema can be diagnosed with imaging or genetic tests.

Treatment options?

Women with lipedema face limited therapeutic options. Because the causes or drivers of disease onset remain unknown, currently available therapies are geared toward relieving symptoms, reducing edema and preserving patient health. 

Conservative treatment options include:

  • Exercise: Although it appears exercise does not seem to have an affect on reducing lipedema fat, however exercise is an important part of overall health and wellbeing.

  • Healthy diet: Some suggestions include the rare adipose diet (RAD), paleo diet, ketogenic diet and anti-inflammatory diet

  • Support groups

  • Compression garments

  • Manual lymphatic drainage

  • Complete decongestive therapy

  • Deep breathing

  • Supplements: Butcher's broom and selenium

Surgical Options​:

  • Liposuction: water assisted or tumescent 

  • Reductive surgery

I am happy to help treat and guide my clients with Lipedema. 

Visit for a ton more information and resources

The following link is a more detailed list of the above 👇🏻

Microsoft Word - Lipedema GSG_FINAL.docx (

lipedema vs lymphedema.jpg
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