Lipedema and Lymphedema Massage

Lipedema is a disorder of adipose tissue that occurs almost exclusively in women; it has also been called ‘painful fat syndrome’. (Although Lipedema affects mostly women, there are a few cases that have been seen in men.)

Typically, there is abnormal bilateral and symmetrical swelling of the legs and hips that extends down towards the ankles where the fat forms a ring just above the ankle. This swelling is due to accumulations of fat and fluid in the tissues under the skin. Fatty bulges can be seen on the outer surfaces of the thighs and sometimes the upper arms are affected as well. The swelling often extends from the waist down, almost in a distinct line toward the ankles, with the feet remaining unaffected.

This disorder can be inherited; in most cases, gradually developed during puberty, although it may develop or worsen due to trauma, such as surgery, peri-menopause or pregnancy. Lipedema has been seen in morbidly obese people and in anorexic individuals. It may be possible to limit the effects of lipedema, through careful weight management, if diagnosed early enough. There are estimates that put the incidence of lipedema as high as 11% of the adult female population. Both conditions, lipedema and lymphedema post-mastectomy usually can be alleviated with manual lymphatic drainage massage.