Information about a unique Lymphatic Disorder called Lipedema or Lipo-lymphedema. This video answers the question: What is Lipedema and what do you recommend for lipedema? Recommendations of initial treatment plans for viewers at home.
Lipedema is a fat disorder. Specifically related to men & women who have unique fat storage in the middle of the body, butt, lower abdomen, hips, legs that are dense with excess fluid and fibrotic tissue.
11% of women are dealing with some stage of Lipedema.
Sadly this is a common disorder and minimally diagnosed. Minimial training and clinical work is focused on supporting and treating individuals with Lipedema and Lipo-Lymphedema.
Often the recommended plans for folks who present with Lipedema is:
1. Weight Loss (surgery, food management, diet)
2. Water Pills (diuretics)
Common co-diagnosis that pair with Lipedema
Chronic Vascular Insufficiency
Fat Storage in legs, abs, butt and hips
Fibrosis in lower extremity
Lipedema Management Involves:
3. Compression Therapy
Lipedema is a very unique lymphatic disorder, it happens to be a fat disorder and it’s specifically related to men and women who have unique fat storage which tend to be in the middle section of the body, the butt and legs are involved. A lot of lower extremity lymphedema is related to this fat storage disorder. Essentially, individuals are presenting with fluid, swelling in their legs, abdomen, there’s often fibrotic tissue, really intense, deep, thick areas of fluid and thicker skin tissue around the abdomen. Generally speaking, lipedema and lipo-lymphedema impacts women more than men and the stats are pretty alarming. 11% of women are dealing with lipedema. They may be diagnosed with Lymphedema, they may be dealing with swollen lymph nodes that are very palpable and sometimes visible underneath the axillary, under your armpit or in the inguinals, right where the leg and the hip meet. This is a very common disorder and yet it is uncommonly diagnosed, it’s uncommonly discussed by the medical community.
Lipolymphedema is a fat disorder where the fat accumulates in a particular area of the body, tends to be lower trunk, lower abdomen and people will present in a pear shape with more fat accumulation around the butt with saddle bag pockets and there’s a rolling type of texture. There is a fat element where there is a greater accumulation of fat cells but what’s really unique about this condition is the fat cells themselves are swollen and accumulating fluid. So, essentially, the “lipo” or fat cells have lymphedema. The fat cells are swelling. Our fat cells can actually swell to a significant size. As swelling occurs for people with lipedema or lipo-lipedema the swelling starts to obstruct the lymphatic channels and there is a direct impact on the vascular channels. Other symptoms that coincide with this fat tissue disorder are hypertension, high blood pressure, chronic vascular deficiency where you see reddening, particularly from the calf down. This disorder looks very different from your traditional lymphedema. You will know it if you have it and if you have a doctor who has not diagnosed you it’s very easy for you to understand that you fall into this category especially when it comes to the physical presentation of your legs, they tend to be redder in the lower leg, calf down, they tend to be more fibrotic so the tissue around the but and the lower abdomen that’s impacting the lymphatic inguinal nodes in the groin. There’s an intense fluid overload in limbs and extremities that will affect the arms but primarily you see this in the lower extremity, belly button down. It is not uncommon for me to be working with an individual that is holding 60, 80, 120 plus pounds of fluid in an extremity. This cases are unique and I generally get called in by facilities to help facilitate the medical care and treatment plan but for folks sitting at home that are on the beginning phase of this, the most important thing that we can do is start to address the fluid flow and start to minimize your lymphatic congestion by doing decompression therapy. One of the best ways to manage lipedema and lipo-lymphedema is to compress the area that is involved. I have had many of you ask, how do I get rid of abdominal swelling? When there is really intense abdominal swelling or fluid retention, more than likely you are falling into this category where your condition is more of a fat disorder in terms of how and where you are accumulating fat and then based the accumulation factor the lymphatics are getting involved, the fat cells are holding fluid, and we now have edema, we a lymphedema and a lymphatic disorder that the only way to manage it is by using herbals, homeopathics and compression therapy. Those three things are crucial for moving your lymphatics.
Individuals with lipedema and lipo-lymphedema who are being treated or being seen by the medical community, I say that very tongue and cheek because many providers are not recognizing lipedema. The common complaint that I get is from my patients that have typically seen an assortment of specialists, there is traditionally three things that they are being thrown at them in terms of management. The first thing is weight. They are being told, you are too fat, your BMI is too high and we want to recommend bariatric surgery, gastric bypass surgery, weight loss surgery, recommendation or script for diuretics and elevation of legs for drainage. All three of those things are actually counterproductive and counterintuitive to individuals like myself in the lymphatic therapy community and folks who are managing really intense lymphedema disorders like lipedema which is a fat disorder now affecting the lymphatic channels and managing edema in the fat cells themself.
The first thing I want to attack is weight. Weight is definitely a factor. It is not uncommon for individuals to hit a certain weight. I usually see a weight of 350-375 being the component that will set people off but it’s not always the case. I have folks in the 140-150 pound category that are presenting with lipedema but are certainly not going to be recommended bariatric surgery or gastric bypass surgery. I want to address those folks as well as those in the middle category that are usually going to be 250-325 pounds and they are traditionally presenting with lower abdomen related fluid and weight gain and weight accumulation. They are more pear shaped individuals. The traditional route is recommending gastric bypass surgery, even if you have a good relationship with food diets are recommended along with diuretics. They may recommend elevation and compression socks. And then there are folks who are bed bound and disabled by this condition. With lymphedema and lipo-lymphedema pain is a bog factor. I have patients that I am working on doing decompression therapy, I may be wrapping them or fitting them for decompression, I maybe doing laser treatment to break up the fibrosis and even light touch sends them off the table. The pain receptivity is a big factor. It’s one of the signs that I look for when I do my patient intakes is what’s their pain factor. Also, is there any osteoarthritis involved? A lot of times the knees, hips and joints that are involved will not only have a lot of pressure but they will also have a lot of pain which also includes a lot of inflammation which is going to be one of the things we talk about in this video series, inflammation and how to reduce that so we can globally address this condition. What I want you to take away from this video is really a deeper understanding of what lipedema is and how it’s not just about what you are putting in your mouth and it’s not about losing weight instantly and it’s not about doing some intense cardio plan or intense type of diet. It really is an overall global management. The most important form of management for lipedema, it has to be individualized because every person presents with lipedema or lipo-lymphedema differently. I’ve seen hundreds of cases where every person is different.
I want you to know you are not alone and I totally understand your situation. There are ways to manage this condition in a healthy, productive way that will get you mobilized, it will get you engaged in life and create vibrancy in your life and movement in your body so that we can flush the fluid and minimize the fibrosis that is causing immobility, high blood pressure and even depression from not being able to do things like you used to because your body seems like it’s working against you.
If you are not on a management plan for lipedema or lipo-lymphedema at home currently, you need to begin now.