Lipedema is a common disorder but often misdiagnosed as obesity. Hence, it’s very common for women affected by the disorder to look up for answers on the query ‘how do you know if you have lipedema?’

Understanding Lipedema

Lipedema is a painful fat disorder that affects 11 percent of women. It’s not the same thing as obesity as there is an irregular fat distribution in people with lipedema. They can gain weight even if they are on a calorie-restricted diet and spend hours in certain physical activities.


The exact cause of lipedema is still unknown although doctors suspect that it has something to do with the hormones. It usually affects women at certain stages particularly during puberty, pregnancy, and around the time of menopause.


Some experts believe that genes may also play a role in the lipedema as women who develop them usually have a family history of it.

How Do You Know If You Have Lipedema

The most distinct sign of lipedema is enlargement of the lower extremities, from the ankles up to the hips. Since the feet are not affected, this creates a ‘bracelet’ effect above the ankles. Although other areas of the body can be affected, it’s not very common.


Aside from the enlargement, the affected site may feel cold, painful, tender to touch, and may bruise easily. As the condition progresses, more fat cells build up leading to further enlargement of the affected site.


A thorough health history and physical assessment is done to confirm the diagnosis. The medical practitioner would usually ask the patient of her family health history and lifestyle to rule out other possible causes of the lower extremity enlargement. Once the interview is done, the patient is assessed thoroughly.


During the assessment, different areas of the body will be palpated. The medical practitioner will look for tenderness, bruising, and other unusualities on different areas especially on the affected site.

Managing Lipedema

Lipedema can be managed in different ways, depending on the severity of one’s condition. It can be done through manual lymphatic drainage, use of compression garments, good skincare routine, or liposuction.


If you think you have the signs and symptoms of lipedema, then it’s best to consult your healthcare provider immediately. Unmanaged or misdiagnosed lipedema can lead to more complications like lymphedema.


Image: Sodanie Chea
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