Lipedema, (international spellings: lipodema, lipoedema or lipodem) was first identified in 1940 by two Vascular Doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and their names were Edgar Hines and Edgar Allen. Sadly, awareness of the disease is more well known in Europe. The US are still not very familiar with lip(o)edema however, in recent times the awareness grown and Beauty Is The Beast, Inc will continue to advocate for this cause and future breakthroughs.
It is still uncertain as to what causes lip(o)edema, but the condition has been connected to genetics and has been said to affect about 11% of women. It is also stated that lip(o)edema fat is greatly influenced by hormones (puberty, pregnancy and menopause), it primarily affects the extremities of the body and often times it affects the lymphatic system.
There 5 types of Lip(o)edema and it determined by the area it us located on the body.
Type 1- affects the buttocks
Type 2- affects the buttocks, hips, and thighs
Type 3- affects the buttocks, hips, thighs, and calves
Type 4- affects the arms
Type 5- affects the calves
*Some women can develop lippy fat on their lower abdominal area and the lower back region as well.
There are 3 stages of Lip(o)edema. Each stage describes the progression of the condition as it affects the different areas of the body.
Stage 1: the fat under the skin is enlarged, soft, somewhat smooth with fine small nodules. Swelling can occur in the affected area which can improve with elevation.
Stage 2: the fat under the skin is firm, subcutaneous and can resemble the shapes from almonds to walnut-sized nodules. In this stage, the fat gets tough, hard and an increase in size. The affected area can look very similar to cellulite at this point and under the skin you can find fibrous fatty lumps. In this stage, swelling and tenderness continous to increase but elevation doesn't completely work.
Stage 3: in the stage larde fibrous tissue cause noticeable deformation in the thighs, knees, ankles and/or elbows depending on what type of lip(o)edema is present. There is constant pain, swelling and elevation doesn't work at all! There is also a higher chance for limited mobility.
Lip(o)edema, when advanced, can be accompanied with Lymphedema and this is called lipo-lymphedema. Both conditions include swelling which makes it extremely difficult to differentiate. When lymphedema is secondary to lip(o)edema it affects both extremities equally. As fibrotic tissue gets worse it affects the lymphatic system by causing obstruction to the normal lymphatic flow and as this worsens there is an increase in lippy fat.
Lip(o)edema is rarely recognized and diagnosed properly. 11% of women are affected by the disease, approximately 60% of the times the upper extremities are affected, and at least 14% of people with the disease have a close family member with it too.