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Lipedema Linked to Family History


3 independent studies find lipedema is an inherited condition.

As reported by The Cleveland Clinic [#} on its website, the exact cause of lipedema is unknown, but the condition runs in families and may be inherited. This statement is supported by three independent studies conducted by leading research teams in Europe who validated lipedema is a genetic condition. Lipedema appears to primarily affect females, presumably driven by estrogen as it usually manifests at puberty. Lipedema disease is different from obesity and is often misdiagnosed as primary obesity because these conditions commonly overlap.

Researchers hope to continue to study as many families as possible with multiple cases of lipedema to create a stronger genetic linkage and determine the biochemical makeup of this disorder. Having this data may help researchers identify the gene that causes lipedema to increase understanding and improve treatment for this painful condition.

Fig 1. Bauer and etal. study reaffirms relatives of lipedema patients also suffer with lipedema. In most cases, grandmothers and mothers were affected the most, followed by aunts, sisters, and cousins.


The familial nature of the condition suggests that lipedema can demonstrate heritability[1]. The exact nature of the form of inheritance is difficult to determine.

Of lipedema patients who participated in a study, 73% reported they had one or suspected multiple family members also had lipedema. Most frequently affected was the mother (38%), followed by grandmother (17%), aunt (8%), sister (6%) and cousin (5%).

A study from 2010 showed that within six families of more than three generations with lipedema disease, a genetic autosomal-dominant hereditary pattern [2]was found.

Frequent studies of mother-to-daughter mode of inheritance led researchers to theorize lipedema is a genetic disorder.

Fig 2. The largest family pedigrees (with a minimum of three living affected members in at least two generations) are demonstrated in Figure 2.

Family clusters of lipedema where more than one family member has the condition indicates a genetic component with a possibly X-chromosome[3] dominance inheritance pattern.

All affected family members were female first- or second-degree relatives of female patients.

One family had six living affected members in three generations, two families had five affected members, two had four affected members, and one further family had three living affected members.

As lipedema appears to be most common at puberty, it is reasonable to assume that hormonal influence underlies the marked female limitation shown in studies to date.

Estrogen is also considered to play a key role in regulating the manner of development of the condition.

Study participants:

Between all three studies, women ages 16-83 (average age, late 30s)

Do you suspect you or a loved one may have lipedema? We can confirm your condition and start you on your journey to feeling better. Contact us to schedule an appointment, today.


Bauer AT, et al. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2019 Dec;144(6):1475-1484

Ghods M, Georgiou I, Schmidt J, Kruppa P. Disease progression and comorbidities in lipedema patients: A 10-year retrospective analysis. Dermatologic Therapy. 2020;e14534.

Child AH, Gordon KD, Sharpe P, Brice G, Ostergaard P, Jeffery S, Mortimer PS. 2010. Lipedema: An inherited condition. Am J Med Genet Part A 152A:970–976.  and


 # Cleveland Clinic Lipedema

[1] Heritability is a measure of how well differences in people’s genes account for differences in their traits

[2] Autosomal dominant inheritance is a way a genetic trait or condition can be passed down from parent to child.

[3] The X chromosome is one of two sex chromosomes. Humans have two sex chromosomes, the X and Y. Females have two X chromosomes in their cells, while males have X and Y chromosomes in their cells.