Lipedema: Symmetric Enlargement Of The Legs
A healthy diet and ample exercise are effective tools in maintaining well-being in most people. A regular routine helps regulate the fat levels in our body.
Some women, however, might suffer from a fat distribution disorder that may result in uneven deposits in the lower half of their body.
Lipoedema or lipedema is the condition which results in the uneven deposition of fat under the skin. A patient suffering from Lipoedema usually has disproportionate lower bodies, typically large thighs despite a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Mild cases involve disproportionate body shapes due to uneven fat distribution. A patient experiences sensitive skin and pain under stress. If left untreated in the long term this can have severe consequences and the symptoms can get progressively worse.
Causes Of Lipoedema (Lipedema)
Lipedema is the direct result of excessive fat build up in the body. The condition almost exclusively affects women and is relatively common. It is found that around 11% of Australian women suffer from Lipoedema.
Lipedema In Ladies
- Lipoedema is almost exclusively a disease of the female gender. Scientists believe this is because of the malfunction of hormones exclusive to women.
- Symptoms first appear around puberty and tend to progressively get worse with age. Pregnancy and menopause also seem to exacerbate the condition.
- Having a history of the condition (for example in older women in the family) can significantly increase the risk of developing a fat distribution disorder.
*Note: Lipoedema is very difficult to diagnose. It can be easily confused with regular weight gain and hence, it is suspected that a large number of cases are currently undiagnosed.
The symptoms of lipedema depend on the extent of progression of the condition. The disease is progressive, i.e. the symptoms tend to get worse with time and neglect.
The disease primarily affects the lower half of the body (thighs, buttocks and lower legs). It is rarely seen on the arms.
The most commonly known identifying factors of lipedema include:
- Increased fat deposits in the lower body, especially in the thighs results in disproportionate body shape. This build-up occurs despite regular exercise and a relatively healthy diet.
- Clothing around the infected thighs begins to feel tighter.
- There is significant pain and discomfort in the affected thighs under stress.
- Patients experience heaviness in the legs and ankle and significantly reduce the quality of life.
- The likelihood of bruising and swelling significantly increases. Patients often report discovering spots on their legs with no noticeable trauma.
Chronic Case Of Lipedema
In chronic cases, fat deposit build-up, can lead to stiffening in the lower body of women. Some patients develop overlapping folds of fat over the ankles. The skin feels cold and is often covered in bruises.
A patient’s mobility is severely restricted and they experience persistent pain under most circumstances.
Immediate medical attention is highly recommended if any signs of the condition are detected. The earlier the diagnosis, the better the prognosis. Early treatment can help manage complications and reduce long term degeneration.
Diagnosis Of Lipedema
A timely diagnosis of lipoedema is very difficult. The symptoms are often masked as regular weight gain and obesity.
- A complete physical examination helps the physician investigate the most common symptoms.
- The physician checks for symmetry in the legs (deposit of fat) and checks for signs of disproportionate body size (Upper body vs lower body) and for signs of bruising.
- Applying pressure on the thighs can check for increased sensitivity and pain.
- Sophisticated imaging technology like Ultrasound can confirm the patient’s medical history and provide an idea of the uneven fat distribution in the lower body.
Treatment For Lipedema
Treatment for Lipedema is mostly conservative. The disease is not curable. The treatment thus focuses on relieving swelling and avoiding water retention in the cells. A few proven measures include:
Changes In Lifestyle
Simple changes in day to day lifestyle can have significant benefits in treating lymphedema. Regular exercise to lose weight and stay healthy reduces the stress on the arms and hands with swelling. Weight loss and reducing obesity, for example, helps relieve pain and discomfort in most patients.
- Strict dietary changes are highly recommended. Following a lipedema diet which is low in sugars, carbohydrates and fats should be followed.
- Patients should make note of dietary intakes like alcohol or gluten that might lead to increased swelling in the arms.
- Certain foods and drinks should be avoided to limit the impact of external triggers.
- Regular skin care with moisturizer and creams to soothe the skin provides relief from the discomfort felt by most patients.
Rehabilitation Exercise And Lymphatic Drainage Massage
- Exercise can help lose weight as well as increase the blood circulation through the affected arms and hands.
- Boosting blood circulation can help strengthen the muscles and facilitate healing.
- Lymphatic drainage massage can also be used to stimulate the surrounding area and naturally encourage drainage of lymph fluid.
- Patients undergoing lymph drainage once or twice a week have reported immense benefits.
- Compression therapy is the gentle application of pressure on the affected area using a medical compression bandage.
- Compression stockings for lipedema like the VenoTrain CuraFlow can significantly improve a patient’s quality of life.
- Regular use of a compression bandage is instrumental in preventing the progression of lipoedema.
- The compression helps encourage the flow of lymph fluid out of the affected thighs and can greatly reduce swelling.
*NOTE: Clipping nails regularly can help reduce the likelihood of bruising or injury to the skin.
Everyday routine with a combination of the above helps slow and stop the progression of the disease and have immense long term benefits.
Compression Stockings: Prevention From Lipedema
Compression stockings like the VenoTrain CuraFlow, are particularly effective in both preventing and managing the progression of lipoedema.
The fine-meshed knitted fabric applies medical-grade compression on the affected limb. The even tissue compression ensures increased lymph fluid drainage from the thighs and prevents swelling in the legs.
The high microfiber count makes the VenoTrain CuraFlow particularly soft and breathable. Bauerfeind offers premium, German-engineered active compression, that is made to perfect measure and very comfortable relative to generically sized and commonly available products.