Lipoedma is a chronic disease of lipid metabolism which results in symmetrical impairment of fatty tissue storage and distribution with hyperplasia of fat cells of individual.
It occurs exclusively in women who are usually associated with a family history and characteristic features and can be diagnosed depending on clinical history together with physical examination.
In lipoedema, the legs get symmetrically enlarged from the ankle up to the hip though the hands and the feet remain unaffected. The fat that is built up often creates a ring of fatty tissue overlapping the top of the feet as though there were tight bands all around the ankle.
Due to the increased fat that gets accumulated under the skim, the legs tend to appear pale and feel cold when compared with the other areas of the body. Moreover the skin also tends to feel fatty which gets tender and can bruise easily. Though the feet and hands are not affected, the arm can get affected occasionally.
Painful with Ache in Affected Areas
Lipoedma can be painful and women with this ailment tend to complain of ache in the affected limbs as well as pain in the knees.
They may also experience fluid retention where around 60 percent cases suffer from small varicose veins seen under the skin surface.
Lipoedma tends to trigger at puberty or when hormonal changes take place, though it may trigger or worsen before or after pregnancy at peri-menopause and following gynaecological surgery such as surgery of the uterus, ovaries or fallopian tube or other surgery with general anaesthesia. Since it triggers in puberty or pregnancy, it indicates that hormones are responsible in this ailment.
It could also trigger due to extreme stressful situation like a death in the family or divorce, since the cortisol levels increases causing an inflammationwhich is often overlooked as simple weight gain. If this condition is diagnosed at the initial stage, though it is very rare, there is a possibility to prevent a significant expansion of lipedmatous fat cells as well as alert patients to their risk factors enabling them to take proper care.
Family History of the Condition
The fat accumulated gets worse in people who are obese though it also affects people of normal weight. It should not be mistaken for obesity since dieting would not make any kind of difference to this ailment. Lipoedema in men are rare wherein the men have usually been taking hormone therapy or have cirrhosis of the liver.
The cause of lipoedema is not known though it could be a family history of the condition in around 50 percent of cases. The treatment which seems to be effective for lipoedema is a procedure known as tumescent liposuction which involves injecting a liquid solution in the legs to enable numbness of the area and reduce blood loss, before removal of the unwanted fat.
This has been reported to be very effective with long term results. Treatment that is not helpful for lipoedema are raising the legs, dieting which may tend to result in losing fat from areas which are not affected by the ailment with little effect on the affected areas though weight gain does not seem to affect lipoedema areas, diuretics wherein tablets are taken to eliminate excess fluid.