Signs and symptoms of lipedema typically appear during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause. These symptoms differ between people, but often include abnormal pockets of body fat in both legs, going from the buttocks to the ankles.
This is typically a painful condition which gradually worsens. But some people may develop minor lipedema that stabilizes. In the initial stages of lipedema, most people have a normal appearance above their waist. However, as the disorder progresses, the torso, chest, upper extremities, and abdomen may become enlarged as well.
The skin overlying the impacted sites typically appears normal, although it may become less elastic. Individuals with lipedema are prone to bruising easily, likely due to the increased fragility of tiny blood vessels in the fat tissue.
Lipedema develops due to the manner in which the fat (adipose tissue) is distributed underneath the skin. Fat is spread unevenly in the legs and buttocks, rather than in a normal pattern. There is usually a fatty region on the inside of the knees and the outside of the hips.
Plastic surgeon Dr. Paul McCluskey provides safe and proven treatments for lipedema to patients in Atlanta, Buckhead, Georgia, and surrounding communities.
What happens when a Person develops Lipedema
- The legs appear symmetrically swollen: Inflammation can develop from the hips and extend down to the ankles causing the legs to appear column-like. The feet are typically not affected.
- The impacted areas feel cool and ‘spongy,’ and the skin is often soft and subtle.
- The patient bruises easily in the impacted areas.
- They may have small spider or varicose veins in the impacted regions.
- The legs and other affected sites are sensitive to touch.
- The legs and other impacted sites hurt and feel uncomfortable. The inflammation may worsen in the afternoon, evening, in hot weather, or after activity.
Individuals with lipedema may find it challenging to walk or engage in exercise, physical activities, and other facets of routine life.
The limitations on mobility may contribute to people with this condition developing low self-esteem and other issues such as anxiety, as well as limiting their social life. People with lipedema often find it challenging to buy clothes as their lower and upper body is quite different in size.
Common Symptoms of Lipedema
Lipedema causes the buttocks, thighs, lower legs, and at times, the arms, to become enlarged due to an accumulation of abnormal fat cells. Both legs and/or the arms are typically enlarged to the same extent and at the same time.
The hands and feet are not affected. This creates a “band-like” appearance or a “bracelet” effect right above the wrists and ankles.
The arm and leg size can differ between people with lipedema, and the disorder can slowly worsen over time.
Besides becoming enlarged, impacted areas of the body may:
- bruise easily
- feel soft, “doughy” and cold
- have tiny broken veins beneath the skin
- feel painful or ache or tender
A person with lipedema may eventually develop fluid retention (lymphoedema) in their legs. This type of inflammation can become worse by the end of the day and may improve overnight.
But the fatty inflammation of lipedema is constant. These symptoms can cause limitations on mobility and psychological problems, such as low self-esteem.
Cosmetic surgeon Dr. Paul McCluskey receives patients from Atlanta, Buckhead, Georgia, and nearby areas for lipedema treatment.
Serving patients in and around Atlanta, Buckhead, Roswell, Marietta, Georgia and surrounding areas.