When it comes to lipedema, there are plenty of unfortunate stories regarding individuals looking for a proper diagnosis who are told they are only obese. There is a clear difference between regular fat and lipedema body fat tissue that accumulates with lipedema that can be observed by the trained eye. Lipedema is associated with a buildup of subcutaneous adipose fat tissue; adipose tissue is used for long term energy storage. Our organs, such as the liver and kidneys, require fat tissue for proper metabolic functioning. Another form of adipose fat tissue, called visceral fat, is very active and is sensitive to calorie balance changes. The third type of adipose fat tissue is called subcutaneous fat tissue and is found between your skin and muscle tissue. This fat tissue is not sensitive to metabolic changes. Even less active in regards to metabolism is hormone-dependent subcutaneous fat tissue that develops in females around the age of puberty. It provides the female body’s shape and is influenced by estrogen and progesterone.
As mentioned, untrained doctors may not recognize your condition as lipedema and instead think it is simply obesity. Individuals with lipedema are able to lose overall weight and decrease the total fat percentage in the body. However, this change is significantly less than in those who are simply obese. The difference in weight loss is statistically different between those with and without lipedema. For example, fat tissue found in the leg will not significantly decrease with diet and exercise in those with lipedema as opposed to someone with obesity.
Another difference between individuals with lipedema and those who are obese is the level of plasma glucose. Individuals with lipedema have a slightly lower fasting blood sugar level than those with identical BMI obesity. In addition, patients diagnosed with lipedema have lower blood sugars after consuming high glucose drinks than those with matched BMI obesity. The blood sugar difference only increases as weight loss is slowly achieved.
Lipedema is associated with the hormone-dependent subcutaneous fat tissue. This greatly impact the arms and legs and can spread further through the body. It is currently unknown why it impacts certain areas of the body and not others. This type of fat tissue is almost nonresponsive to weight management. Other fat deposits in the body will be impacted by weight loss instead of the hormone-dependent subcutaneous fat tissue in the body.