The Lipedema Stages Explained
The Lipedema Stages Explained
A condition such as lipedema can vary from patient to patient, this includes anything from most prominent symptoms to severity. Over the years, medical professionals have divided the most common lipedema stages, making diagnosis a little easier. However, despite the presence of lipedema stages, the diagnosis of the condition remains difficult and patients often do not get diagnosed until they find themselves in one of the later lipedema stages.
Patients with lipedema can find the condition and its associated symptoms confusing when they get diagnosed. To help patients understand their condition and potential treatments, The Dr Lanzer Clinic has composed this comprehensive information overview about lipedema stages, diagnosis, and treatments.
What Are The Stages Of Lipedema?
Lipedema is generally divided in four categories. The early stages of lipedema include lipedema stage 1 and stage 2. Stage 3 and 4 are considered the advanced stages of the condition.
During the first stage of lipedema, the patient will have a smooth skin surface, but thickened subcutaneous adipose tissue (fat cells). The texture of the fat could be compared to a series of small knots.
When the condition advances into the second stage, the skin surface of the patient will start to get uneven. The lipedema fat will also feel a little coarser and harder compared to the previous stage.
During stage 3, the fat tissue continues to evolve. Compared to the second stage, the fat becomes even harder and larger. Patients are likely to have significant physical discomfort during this stage of the condition.
The fourth stage of lipedema stands in close connection with lymphedema, as this condition develops during the fourth stage. If the condition remains untreated and enters stage four, patients are likely to encounter serious issues with their lymphatic system.
Advanced stages of lipedema can also cause fat and excess fluid to spread to other areas of the body; this includes the upper arms.
How Fast Does Lipedema Progress?
Tissue disorders such as lipedema can be unpredictable and are subject to a number of factors. So, the speed with which the condition progresses can be variable from patient to patient.
While it is widely known that lipedema occurs exclusively in women, little is known about the actual cause of the condition. Weight loss seems to have little effect on the accumulated fat, which makes treatment more problematic.
To slow down the progression of the condition, medical professionals usually recommend a combination of manual lymphatic drainage massage, a lipedema friendly diet and plenty of exercise.
How Is Lipedema Diagnosed?
Unfortunately, the diagnosis of lipedema can be problematic, as it is often confused with lymphoedema. This also means that many patients do not get their diagnosis until they find themselves in stage four.
The diagnosis will usually begin with a visual diagnosis by an experienced doctor. There are some tell-tale signs of the condition that can be observed with the naked eye, this includes extremities that are disproportionate with the rest of the body.
Additional tests can be executed to confirm your doctor’s diagnosis, this may include skin palpitation, a paradoxical pinch test, pain pressure test, and more. Additional tests can also be executed to rule out any other conditions.
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What Makes Lipedema Worse?
While the cause of lipedema is not yet known, scientists are aware of certain things that can make lipedema worse. Two of the most important cornerstones within this framework are diet and exercise.
Patients who do not exercise regularly seems to experience lipedema that progresses quicker or more severely than patients who do not. In addition to that, dairy products and processed flour have also been shown to have a negative impact on the condition.
What Are The Treatments For Lipedema?
The treatment for lipedema can be different for each patient. It depends on the stage of lipedema the patient has, but also the type of lipedema. Of course, there are a couple of common treatments we can discuss in a little more detail today.
One of the common treatments for lipedema is manual lymphatic drainage. Lymphatic drainage consists of a massage that aims lymph from a blocked area to an area that drains properly, subsequently reducing swelling and pain. This treatment is often combined with compression garments, which are comparable to the compression garments one wears after cosmetic surgery.
You can also come across decongestive therapy, this involves using several treatments for lipedema at once at has proven to be more effective for the majority of patients. Decongestive treatment usually includes manual lymphatic drainage, the use of compression garments, a special dietary plan and plenty of exercises. You can get access to these treatments with a lipedema specialist or through a referral by your doctor. These treatments can also be obtained by the patient individually.
Liposuction is another common treatment for lipedema. During this procedure, the fat cells are suctioned out of the treatment area. This reduces the swelling the patient experienced and increases their overall mobility. However, the swelling can still be present shortly after the procedure, as swelling is a common side-effect of cosmetic surgery. So, patients first need to recover before they can see the overall results.
Before you have treatment for lipedema, it is recommended to seek a second opinion. By seeking a second opinion, you will be fully informed about the treatment options available to you and the effects they can provide.