Lipedema is a chronically progressive, symmetrical accumulation of fat in the subcutaneous tissue occurring almost exclusively in women. Primarily the lower extremities are affected, but lipedema may occur in combination with the upper extremities as well. Lipedema is characterized by symmetric enlargement of the limbs, combined with tenderness and easy bruising.
Lipedema is not caused by a disorder of the lymphatic system; however, it is commonly misdiagnosed as bilateral primary lymphedema.
Several marked differences between lipedema and primary lymphedema can be distinguished; these differences are highlighted in the table below.
While lipedema always affects both legs symmetrically (bilateral appearance), primary lymphedema usually affects one leg only. If both legs are involved in primary lymphedema the swelling appears asymmetric (see image on bottom of this article). The feet are not involved in lipedema; the symmetrical distribution of fa...