Do your legs never slim down no matter how hard you try? No amount of healthy eating and exercise makes a difference? Constantly wondering why can’t I lose weight from my legs but I can from my body? You might have a condition called Lipedema. It affects around 11% of women, but is rarely diagnosed correctly. Read on to find out more and decide whether you might suffer from Lipedema.
What is Lipedema?
Lipedema is a chronic condition that affects predominantly women, causing fat and fluid to accumulate disproportionately in the lower body and sometimes arms. It is a progressive condition, which means it can get worse over time without conservative measures. The cause of Lipedema is still unknown but its onset is usually around puberty, pregnancy or menopause.
What are the symptoms of Lipedema?
The primary symptom of Lipedema (especially in the earlier stages) is the disproportionate accumulation of fat in the legs, hips, bum and sometimes arms. The affected areas are resistant to diet and exercise and appear out of proportion with the rest of the body. Other common Lipedema symptoms include:
• Pain and discomfort: The accumulation of fat in the affected areas can cause pain, tenderness, and a feeling of heaviness. However, just because you don’t have pain and discomfort, it doesn’t completely rule out the chance of you suffering from Lipedema.
• Swelling: Lipedema can cause swelling in the legs, which can worsen throughout the day. It is often most difficult to manage in the warmer months of the year.
• Skin changes: The skin over the affected areas may be sensitive to the touch and can bruise easily. In addition, women in the later stages may have visible fat nodules under the skin that have a cellulite-like appearance. You can read about Lipedema vs cellulite in another blog here.
• Limited mobility: As the condition progresses, the excess fat can limit mobility and range of motion, making it difficult to perform normal activities, especially in stages 3 and 4.
Is Lipedema progressive?
Unfortunately, Lipedema is a progressive condition that can get worse over time if left untreated. Without conservative measures, the excess fat can continue to grow, leading to more severe symptoms such as chronic pain, limited mobility, and an increased risk of developing other health issues such as Lymphedema, varicose veins, and cellulitis. However, it’s not all bad news, with proper management including lifestyle changes, compression therapy, and surgical interventions, it is possible to slow the progression of the disease.
Is there a cure for Lipedema?
There is currently no known cure for Lipedema. But, there are various treatment options available that can help manage the symptoms and improve your quality of life. Treatments include:
• Lifestyle changes: This may include maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding tight clothing and high heels. See my blog ‘Best diet for Lipedema’ for more information about how to follow an anti-inflammatory diet.
• Compression therapy: This involves wearing compression garments such as stockings to help reduce swelling and improve lymphatic flow. Click here for my favourite compression garments.
• Surgical interventions: Various surgical options such as WAL liposuction are recommended in some cases to remove excess fat and improve mobility. See my blog ‘Why I opted for Lipedema liposuction’ for the reasons why I have chosen to undergo Lipedema surgery later this year.
• Physical therapy: Massages designed to improve lymphatic flow such as MLD (Manual Lymphatic Drainage) to reduce pain and improve mobility.
What should I do now?
If you regularly struggle to lose weight from your legs or arms because they don’t respond to diet and exercise, you might well suffer from Lipedema. If you have any of the symptoms above and would like to try and get a diagnosis, make an appointment with your GP armed with lots of information about the condition. You could even show them this blog post. Hopefully they will be receptive and will refer you to a Lymphedema nurse or vascular specialist. You can then find out the real reason why you can’t lose weight from your legs but can from the rest of your body.
See my blog ‘How to get a Lipedema diagnosis’ for some insight into navigating the world of Lipedema if you think the above symptoms sound familiar.
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.