Lipedema is a long-term condition that occurs almost exclusively in women and involves abnormal deposits of fat cells in the legs, thighs, buttocks, and sometimes arms. This cause is unknown; however there are genetic and hereditary links in some cases. Lipedema develops in both legs or arms simultaneously with swelling beginning at the ankles or wrists and continuing up the limbs. In addition to fat cell build-up, this condition can damage the lymph vessels and result in fluid retention to further develop the condition lymphedema.
The main elements of treating lipedema are:
- Compression therapy with proper garments
- Exercises to improve mobility
- Manual lymphatic drainage
- Weight management
- Surgical procedures under certain circumstances (e.g. liposuction)
- Self-management training