If you suffer from Lipedema like me, one of our biggest worries is how quickly it will progress and the different Lipedema stages we’ll go through. It’s no surprise that most women aren’t diagnosed until they reach the later stages. This is due to it being such a difficult diagnosis to receive. Many women are sent away by doctors claiming they are obese and need to lose weight, when that simply isn’t the case.
My BMI has always been healthy so that wasn’t the case for me. But even so, my diagnosis was increasingly difficult to come by. You have to be resilient and insist on being seen by a specialist. See my blog ‘How to get a Lipedema diagnosis’ for more details on getting my diagnosis in the UK.
But how quickly does Lipedema progress? The truth is, there’s no definitive answer to this question. Every woman’s case is different and there are various factors that affect Lipedema progression. Certain hormonal changes such as puberty, pregnancy and menopause can cause a rapid speed up of the progression.
The different stages of Lipedema
There are four different stages of Lipedema, if left untreated with no conservative measures your Lipedema will progress over time. Unfortunately, each Lipedema stage is more severe than the last. Surgical treatments such as WAL liposuction are more successful in the earlier stages, so if this is the path you plan to go down, it is advised to seek treatment sooner rather than later. See my blog ‘Why I opted for Lipedema liposuction’ for a breakdown of the reasons why I have chosen surgical intervention to treat my stage 2 Lipedema later this year.
Stage 1 Lipedema
Smooth skin with an increase of enlarged fatty tissue usually in the lower body. Clear disproportion between the upper and lower body.
Uneven skin with indentations in the fat tissue and larger mounds of fat tissue (lipomas) able to be seen and felt.
Large extrusion of fat tissue causing deformations especially on the thighs and around the knees.
Stage 4 Lipedema
Development of Lipolymphedema — a condition where both Lipedema and Lymphedema are present in the body — with large overhangs of tissue on legs and/or arms.
How quickly does Lipedema progress?
As I’ve already mentioned, there is no concrete answer to this question, every woman’s case is unique with varying symptoms and aesthetic appearance. Personally, my Lipedema has progressed from stage 1 as a teenager going on the pill at 15, to stage 2 as a 31 year old. The transformation has been slow, however I have always followed a healthy diet and kept my weight down in an attempt to slow down the spread of the condition.
To put things into perspective, researchers have estimated that, on average, it could take around 17 years to reach the Lipo-lymphedema phase. 17 years is a long time. And I don’t believe that to be entirely accurate, if sufferers follow conservative measures and maintain a healthy lifestyle, I think the progression can be slowed down significantly and some women would never reach stage 4 in their lifetime.
The age of onset varies from patient to patient. Some women first begin to suffer during puberty, like me. Others will develop the condition later in life. It is quite clear based on medical research that hormonal changes in the body causes Lipedema to get worse. This is bad news for us ladies, hormonal changes are inevitable especially menopause.
In conclusion, the question – how quickly does Lipedema progress? – is as long as a piece of string. Nobody can possibly answer that without seeing your body, hearing your symptoms and looking at your progression since the condition started.
The best advice I can give for those worrying about their Lipedema and how quickly it will spread is to try an anti-inflammatory diet and other conservative measures such as compression garments. And if you’d like to remove your Lipedema completely, do some research on surgical interventions such as WAL liposuction.
Disclaimer: My blogs talk about Lipedema, diet, surgery and much more. I’m talking from my point of view to help women, and remind them they are not alone. I am not a medical professional, so the content above is from my own perspective with research I have done into the topic. It’s not meant as medical advice, you should always consult your doctor or a specialist for both your diagnosis, and a treatment plan.