Lipedema occurs almost exclusively in women, with up to 11% developing its hallmark symptom: excessive fat in their lower limbs. The condition is also painful and frequently misdiagnosed, which is frustrating and depressing for patients. Dr. Cluny Lefevre and Dr. Joseph Ahram at Night and Day Medical specialize in diagnosing lipedema and helping women get effective treatment. If you have symptoms of lipedema and would like to schedule an appointment, call one of the offices in the Midtown East and Washington Heights neighborhoods of New York City, or book an appointment online.
Lipedema is a disorder in which fat (also called lipids) accumulates under the skin of both legs. The amount of fat is significant, resulting in legs that are large and out of proportion to the rest of your body. Some women also develop lipedema in their hips and buttocks.
Lipedema is not the same as, or caused by, overweight or obesity. Some women with lipedema may be overweight or obese, but lipedema is a separate and unrelated health condition.
Unfortunately, lipedema is often misdiagnosed as obesity. As a result, women are told they need to lose weight. That’s a problem because lipedema doesn’t respond to weight loss efforts — it persists despite restricting calories or having weight loss surgery.
Lipedema is also not the same as lymphedema, and it’s not caused by lymphedema. It is frequently misdiagnosed as lymphedema, however.
Women with lipedema often have leg swelling due to a buildup of the fluids that naturally bathe cells throughout their body, called interstitial fluids. By comparison, lymphedema is a buildup of lymph fluid that occurs when the lymphatic system is blocked or damaged.
In later stages of lipedema, the excess fat may put too much pressure on the lymphatic system, causing secondary lipolymphedema.
Lipedema usually worsens gradually, but you may experience a rapid increase of fat when you’re under stress or when you go through hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.
The fat accumulation involves both legs while leaving your feet unaffected. There are five types of lipedema, defined by the area affected:
Lipedema is painful, which is why it’s sometimes called painful fat syndrome. Most women also find that the areas affected by lipedema are easily bruised.
Lipedema is hard to evaluate and accurately diagnose, which is why you need the experienced physicians at Night and Day Medical, who specialize in identifying this condition.
Your doctor may order or perform imaging studies such as ultrasound, MRI, or tests to evaluate lymphatic drainage. After evaluating your symptoms and overall health, the team rules out all other conditions that could cause the problem.
If you’re diagnosed with lipedema, you’re referred to a trusted specialist with experience in treating the condition. Liposuction to remove diseased lipedema fat must be carefully performed to avoid injuring lymphatic channels.
Although the team at Night and Day Medical doesn’t treat lipedema, they can help with holistic support, such as supplements and a healthy diet plan.
The team at Night and Day Medical understand the challenges you face with lipedema. To get the help you need, call one of the offices or use online booking to schedule an appointment.