Do I have lipedema? (photos)

my mom has hugely inflamed thighs /calves / hips & lower body. ive always struggled to lose weight in my lower body & im starting to realize that i may hve it too.

Doctor Answers 3

Diagnosing Lipedema

I am going to start off by qualifying myself as a specialist in lipedema surgery. Most of my colleagues would describe me as one of the pioneers of lipedema surgery in the United States, I’ve performed lipedema surgery for over 10 years, I’ve performed close to 1,000 surgeries, and currently perform 6-8 lipedema surgeries per week. I work closely with other lipedema specialists around the country, such as Dr. Karen Herbst from the University of Arizona. I have extensive knowledge of the condition itself, and I’m very involved in the lipedema community. I lecture about the condition and do what I can to increase awareness for lipedema, not only in the united states but around the world. Sadly, this is definitely a very under recognized condition in the United States. We are seeing more information available via the internet, as awareness is growing, on sites such as the Fat Disorder Research Society, and I personally have a website: “advancedlipedematreatment.com” that provides a lot of good information about lipedema. To answer your specific question, I do a lot of photo/phone consultation to diagnose the condition based on the way in which it looks, but symptoms are very important to consider along with the patient’s history. We don’t learn about lipedema in medical school, but it affects about 11% of the female population. It usually presents in puberty, and tends to progressively get worse as time goes on and can commonly worsen with hormonal changes due to pregnancy or menopause. The diseased fat tissue is not very responsive to diet or exercise. It is a combination of fat distribution in a certain way along with swelling. The lipedema patient commonly has a characteristic disproportionate fat distribution with a “tree-trunk” look to the legs, puffy and often painful fat distributed from the buttock down to the ankles, circling all the way around the legs, and in most of the cases I’ve seen it also affects the upper arms. Usually there’s a family history of similar symptoms, as it tends to run in families. Most patients find the condition painful, limiting their quality of life, and often easily bruise. As time goes on, there is a lot of fibrotic changes in the subcutaneous area that makes the swelling worse. It is a combination of both what we see and the symptoms specifically. In your case specifically, just looking at the photographs it is difficult to tell. You do not have the characteristic type of lipedema fat distribution that usually goes all the way around and down from the outer buttock area to the ankles. It does look like your thighs are full , but the majority of fullness is in the outer and inner thighs, with some cellulitic changes. Based on the photographs alone, I would say it is unlikely you have lipedema and more likely just genetic disproportion of fat distribution. On the other hand, if you told me you experience some of the common symptoms such as pain or swelling, and if those symptoms ran in your family, I would say it could be likely that you have lipedema. Really a proper evaluation and diagnosis with someone who understands lipedema well is the way to go about getting properly diagnosed and if recommended, proper treatment.


Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

Do I have lipedema?

Hello dear, thanks for your question and provided information as well.. This is the surgical procedure that revolutionized cosmetic surgery becoming one of the most performed cosmetic procedures. Subcutaneous tissue or fat is removed in order to contour the body in a way that is harmonious and pleasing to the senses. It can be performed in almost all regions of the body such as the neck, chin, abdomen, back, buttocks, thighs, arms and ankles. Usually done through a small incision in the skin through which a cannula connected to a vacuum is applied, it can be performed alone or in combination with other procedures. After liposuction your body is going to be really swollen for at least 2 to 4 months after your surgery. It is important for you to wear your compression garment for at least 6 months, the first 3 months 24/7 and then the last 3 months at least 12 hours per day for your body get use to not having the faja for so many time. When you remove it, your body can get swollen and also you can have pain. Remember to also compress your body to prevent a seroma which is an accumulation of liquid that has to be drained, it is hard to touch and also really painful. Bruises are completely normal for almost 3 months from surgery, that’s why is better for you to use a bruising cream and apply it all over your body 3 times a day. To prevent bad circulation and swollen legs, use compression socks. Brazilian butt lift can be performed with the same procedure and for a month it will be swollen and it will drop a little bit without losing it’s shape if you use your garment.. If you’re going to perform liposuction on your inner, outer, anterior, lateral, postetior thighs, be careful and consult with your surgeon what’s best for you, sometimes we have more extra skin than fat, that can cause severe sagginess on our legs, which can be only be reversed performing a thigh lift…

Tania Medina de Garcia, MD
Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 361 reviews

Liposuction for lipidema?

Thank you for your question about your lower leg liposuction.
  • Lipidema is not a recognized medical term -
  • As I understand its use, it refers to heavy legs with the fat continuing down to the ankles and into the feet.
  • Your photo shows a normal fat distribution in the lower legs.
  • Lipedema is a diagnosis of exclusion  - in other words, there are many medical issues that cause similar lower leg swelling - lipedema is used if no known medical problem explains the appearance.
  • One can't say what is causing your mother's problem.
  • Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.
Best wishes. Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.