If you're wondering why your legs are so fat, you might actually have lipedema.  

Lipedema is a fat condition that causes bilateral and symmetrical swelling usually from the waist to the distinct line just above the ankles. 

More About Lipedema

Often mistaken as obesity, lipedema is a condition that affects the adipose tissue.  Its distinct characteristics make it different from the typical weight gain.  

Distinct Characteristics of Lipedema 

  • It occurs almost exclusively in women. 
    Although there are reported cases of lipedema occurring in men (usually in those with hormonal imbalance and liver problems) most cases usually involved women 

  • It affects the lower body. 
    Lipedema usually presents itself as excessive accumulation of fat tissue in the lower part of the body. It usually starts at the bone at the waist (called the iliac crest) extending down towards the ankle. 

  • It causes bilateral and symmetrical swelling. 
    One thing that makes lipedema different from other conditions like lymphedema is that it affects both sides of the body. There is bilateral and symmetrical fat accumulation, similar to regular weight gain. The only difference is that there is no 'regular' pattern of fat accumulation, which results to legs looking like columnar trunks.  

  • Fat accumulation feels abnormal and painful. 
    Another thing that makes lipedema different from normal fat accumulation is that the fat areas feel abnormal and painful. They can be very tender when pressure is applied and are easily bruised.  

  • It can occur to women in all sizes. 
    Lipedema can happen even to those who are seriously underweight. 

What To Do About Lipedema

Like other medical conditions, there is better prognosis for lipedema if it is diagnosed and treated promptly.  

A treatment called complete decongestive therapy can help ease the painful symptoms of the condition. This therapy usually involved manual lymphatic drainage, the use of compression garments, exercise, and liposuction. Depending on the severity of your lipedema, on which the swelling from the waist to the ankles will be assessed, you may be recommended for one or a combination of these treatments. 


Image: Gareth Williams via Flickr 

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