What is lipedema?
Lipedema is a fat distribution disorder. It is also known as the saddle bag phenomenon or pillar leg due to its appearance. This disorder occurs almost exclusively in women – usually during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause – and can progress over time.
The main characteristic of lipedema is the symmetrical increase of fatty tissue on the legs (and arms) with a slender upper body. Affected persons have to struggle with severe pain and water retention in the tissue, which leads to considerable restrictions in their quality of life.
The visual disproportion between a slim upper body and a very voluminous lower body and arms is caused by the fact that most of the trunk as well as the hands and feet are not affected by the fat distribution disorder. This appearance, which sometimes causes stigmatization, can be extremely stressful for those affected – not only physically but also psychologically. Self-esteem is significantly lowered as a result.
Because of the similarities in symptoms, lipedema is often misdiagnosed as obesity or lymphedema and is not treated properly. It is important to emphasize that lipedema has nothing to do with obesity, so it cannot be influenced in the long term by exercise or an adapted diet. Therefore, it often takes years before the disease is diagnosed. Many sufferers only seek medical advice after an extremely long history of suffering – when the most varied sports and diet attempts have all failed. It is very crucial to treat the disease as early as possible in order to stop or at least delay its progression.