Lipedema continues to be a poorly identified condition where diagnoses are often avoided by US physicians. Identifying lipedema involves a clinical evaluation from a medical physician with expert knowledge regarding this condition. Two factors that are critical in finding a proper lipedema diagnosis include identifying an abnormal fat deposition in impacted areas and identifying symptoms of lipedema.
Far too often Lipedema is misdiagnosed as obesity. The abnormal fat deposition of lipedema is very different from obesity. Individuals with lipedema typically accumulate disproportionate fat in soft tissue just below the skin on the arm and legs. Individuals with obesity typically see a proportional increase of fat issue around the body but it is more concentrated inside the abdomen, called visceral fat. Individuals with lipedema will instead see a much greater fat accumulation be around extremities and not the abdomen which is described as disproportionate when compared to the rest of the body.
Lipedema can be identified with five different types of the condition depending on where the fat tissue is found predominantly. Type I identifies lipedema with fat pockets around the buttocks. Type II identifies lipedema with fat around the hips and thighs in addition to the buttocks. Type III identifies fat tissue around the calves, ankles, and thighs. Type IV identifies lipedema with pockets of fat tissue on the arms while Type V is lipedema with fat tissue found exclusively on the calves and ankles.
It helps to properly identify lipedema by recognizing many of its common symptoms. Individuals who have been properly diagnoses often have tender skin that is sensitive to walking and pressure. Limbs affected by lipedema appear to be “fluffy” and have a rubbery feel to them. The skin tissue will eventually harden and feel like beans in a bag. Skin tissue will also lose elasticity and become uneven. The overall temperature of the skin will cool. Your legs will begin to feel heavy and lead to overall fatigue. Individuals with a newer development of lipedema will see that swelling will be frequent during the day and subside at night. Individuals who have been dealing with lipedema for years will notice that the swelling will progress at later stages. Finally, individuals with lipedema will also notice visible veins under the skin on impacted limbs and will bruise easily.
Properly identifying symptoms of lipedema and observing abnormal fat distribution will help with diagnosing this condition. Physicians now use tests to help with their diagnoses such as venous Doppler ultrasound and lymphoscintigraphy. Additional research will help with properly identifying lipedema from obesity and other fat-related conditions. Contact us for your proper lipedema diagnosis.