Lipedema is a condition that causes excess fat to accumulate in the lower part of the body. Lipedema most often involves the buttocks, thighs and calves. The upper arms can also be affected. The condition does not affect the hands or feet.
Lipedema is sometimes confused with lymphedema, but these are different conditions. However, lipedema can lead to lymphedema.
The exact cause of lipedema is unknown. But the condition runs in families and may be inherited. The condition occurs almost exclusively in women, and usually starts or gets worse at the time of puberty, pregnancy or menopause. Because of this, there is likely a connection to hormones.Lipedema is not caused by obesity but more than half of patients with this condition are overweight or obese. Dieting can cause you to lose weight in your upper body without changing the areas affected by lipedema.Symptoms of lipedema include:
A heart-healthy diet may help slow the progression of lipedema, especially if you learn about your condition early on. Exercise, especially swimming, biking and walking, are helpful for mobility and to reduce swelling.
Your doctor may suggest noninvasive treatments, such as:
Liposuction may be used to reduce the size of fat deposits but standard liposuction is not recommended. Wet-jet assisted liposuction is less likely than total tumescent liposuction to cause damage to the lymph vessels and is recommended.If you have lipedema and are also obese, you doctor may recommend bariatric surgery.
A doctor’s training and experience affect their ability to treat patients. And not all hospitals offer the same types of services. The more complex your medical problem, the greater these differences in quality become and the more they matter.
The doctor and hospital you choose for complex, specialized medical care will have a direct impact on how well you do. To help you make this choice, please review our Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute Outcomes.
Your doctor and plan of care depend on your condition and where you are in your treatment.
Section of Vascular Medicine: For evaluation, medical management or interventional procedures to treat patients with lipedema, call Vascular Medicine Appointments, toll-free 800.223.2273, extension 44420. You can also request an appointment online.
Doctors who specialize in lipedema management include: John Bartholomew, MD.
If you need more information, click here to contact us, chat online with a nurse or call the Miller Family Heart and Vascular Institute Resource & Information Nurse at 216.445.9288 or toll-free at 866.289.6911. We would be happy to help you.
Additional information about vascular treatment options can be found at:
Diagnostic tests are used to diagnose your abnormal heartbeat and the most effective treatment method.
Our webchats and video chats give patients and visitors another opportunity to ask questions and interact with our physicians.
*A new browser window will open with this link.
The inclusion of links to other websites does not imply any endorsement of the material on those websites nor any association with their operators.
Our outcomes speak for themselves. Please review our facts and figures and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.
© Copyright 1995-2020 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.
This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 05/24/2019