Lipedema, also known as painful fat syndrome, is a chronic disease most common in females. The swelling and expansion of fatty tissue occurs mainly in the hip region and upper and lower extremities. Lipedema is extremely rare in males and is often misdiagnosed as Lymphedema, which is similar and can be present at birth or developed later on.
Symptoms vary for patients, but the enlargement of both legs is the primary indicator of Lipedema. The expansion of fat cells grows at the same rate on both sides of the body from the waist to the knees, or a distinct fat ring around the ankles. Accumulation of fat in the upper arms also affects 30-90% of those with lipedema. Other symptoms include hypersensitivity to touch and pain in soft tissue areas even while at rest. This can lead to gout and severe joint pain.
The best way to diagnose lipedema is manual and visual examination by a trained physician. The healthcare physician will look and feel for abnormal tissue growth, or nodules. As the disease progresses the size and number of nodules do as well.
Treatment of Lipedema
- Traditionally, surgical removal of the fatty tumor(s) is performed, however, the patient is left with scarring and in cases of multiple fatty tumors, multiple scars are accrued.
- A less invasive option has been liposuction, however, it is difficult to remove the entire tumor resulting in future recurrence.
- Dr. Volshteyn has developed an innovative method of removing the fatty tumor utilizing ultrasonic destruction with minimal incisions. This process turns the tumor into a liquid consistency and then gently suctioned out through the same small incision.
- Minimal Scarring
- Little to no discomfort or downtime
- Ideal for removal of multiple lipomas
- Can be done under local anesthesia
- In many cases no sutures are needed
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- http://www.tillysmidt.nl/LIPEDEMA_Englisch_for_Lipoedeem.html, adapted from this site
- Schmeller W, Meier-Vollrath I, Chapter 7 Lipedema, http://www.hanseklinik.com/englisch/Lipoedema.pdf
- Allen E V, Hines E A, Lipoedema of the legs. A syndrome characterized by fat legs and edema. Proc Staff. Meet. Mayo Clinic 1940; 15:184
- Fife CE, Maus EA, Carter MJ, 2010 Lipedema: A Frequently Misdiagnoed and Misunderstood Fatty Deposition Syndrome. ADV SKIN WOUND CARE 2010;23:81-92; quiz 93-4. reported “However, in an unpublished epidemiological study conducted in 2001, Foeldi and Foeldi  claimed that lipedema is present in 11% of the female population”.  corresponds to “Foeldi E, Foeldi M. Lipedema. In: Foeldi M, Foeldi E, eds. Foeldi’s Textbook of Lymphology. 2nd ed. Munich, Germany: Elsevier; 2006:417-27.
- Trayes KP, Studdiford JS, Pickle S, Tully AS “Edema: Diagnosis and Management” Am Fam Physican 2013:88(2):102-110
- Herbst, Karen L “Rare adipose disorders (RADs) masquerading as obesity” Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2012 Feb;33(2):155-72. doi: 10.1038/aps.2011.153.