Lipedema is a fat disorder, and can be distinguished by 5 characteristics.
- It occurs nearly exclusively in women
It is inherited. My mother, although she never became obese, has the characteristic early stage legs. My dad played rugby, and is stocky, so I got it from both sides I guess.
- It can occur in women of all sizes, from the seriously underweight to the morbidly obese
- It involves the excess deposit and expansion of fat cells in an unusual and particular pattern - bilateral, symetrical and usually from the waist to a very distinct line just above the ankles. The feet are normal size.
- Unlike normal fat, lipedemic fat cannot be lost through diet and exercise. My plan is to lose as much non-lipedemic fat and then research my options.
These are not my legs. I will have to screw up the courage to post my own legs on the internet. I haven't worn dresses for years, so no one gets to see my legs in real life. I will do it though in the next few days, just for the sake of honesty. I know that I am more fortunate than others. There are ladies out there that suffer dreadfully. I know that there are many who can no longer wear jeans or trousers because their legs will not fit. I know that there are women out there who have lost their mobility.
Add to this a couple of other things. The fat can be painful. My husband loves having his legs and ankles squeezed. I simply cannot tolerate it.
The condition can deteriorate so that the expanding fat cells constrict the pathways of lymphatic vessels and sufferers can develop secondary lymphedema.
Doctors in the US and Canada are largely unaware of the condition. It seems to be more common in Europe, particularly in Germany and there are doctors there who specialize in treating the condition. There is not a lot of research being done into the condition.
Surgical options like liposuction have been extremely controversial. Frankly, in the past it has made the condition worse. The thrusting motion used in conventional liposuction tends to play havoc with the delicate lymphatic vessels in the lower legs. There is however a new method, the water-jet assisted method, which uses water and not heat or violent motion to break down the adipose tissue. There have been experiments done that show that it can be done without disturbing the lymph system. This is the method I think I will eventually go for but I am waiting, planning and doing a lot of reading.