Rarely properly diagnosed, lipedema is often overlooked as a weight issue when patients initially seek medical help. A disease that primarily targets women, they generally get put into a category of not living a “healthy” lifestyle and that the symptoms are only an issue with their weight. Lipedema is a condition that causes excess fat buildup or “fatty fluid” in the subcutaneous tissue generally in the lower extremities of the body. Female patients suffer from symmetrical, bilateral enlargement of their legs, hips, or buttocks and occasionally in the upper arms as well. A telltale sign of the disease, the hands and feet are never affected by lipedema, and women generally have a normal if not small upper torso.
Lipedema has common characteristics that are recognized by a trained lipedema specialist, but unfortunately, most women go undiagnosed until that specialist is found. Dr. Jaime Schwartz is a board-certified plastic surgeon and a lipedema specialist. Founder of Total Lipedema Care (TLC) in Beverly Hills, CA, he oversees a highly regarded lipedema treatment and support center recognized across the lipedema and medical community. Dr. Schwartz and the dedicated staff at TLC are committed properly diagnosing and treating women who live with this disease and giving them a way to live with lipedema, not be hindered by it.
Lipedema is not a lifestyle problem
Lipedema is a medical disease, with its first known case diagnosed in 1940. It is not a lifestyle issue of eating unhealthy or lacking exercise. It is an inherited condition exclusively passed down through female family members. The onset of lipedema symptoms seem to occur or get worse with fluctuating hormones in different stages of life such as during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, which can trigger the onset or worsen existing symptoms. Some women with lipedema may already be overweight, but the additional weight gain caused by lipedema is not their doing, and finding a specialist like Dr. Schwartz to confirm the actual diagnosis of lipedema vs lifestyle is necessary.
Finding a lipedema specialist
Dr. Schwartz and his trained staff at TLC see patients in Beverly Hills at various stages of this disease. It is a progressive disorder that can get worse if left untreated. Women come to TLC concerned something is wrong with their health when regular exercise and a healthy diet don’t seem to help and the signs of lipedema become more obvious. Most women who have lipedema try dieting to eliminate the onset of weight in their lower extremities but find only their upper bodies are affected and see no change in their lower body areas affected by the disease. It’s important to understand that lipedema is not the patient’s fault and can be physically and physiologically debilitating. That’s why seeking the right help from a lipedema specialist is a step in the right direction. Women who get a definitive diagnosis from a specialist like Dr. Schwartz can start finding helpful nonsurgical and surgical treatments to fight this disease.
Research about lipedema has come a long way but a trained lipedema specialist, like Dr. Schwartz, knows what to look for in the atypical texture of the subcutaneous fat that begins to build up in known target areas. The “fatty buildup” generally feels like grains of rice or sand or large strands of nodules. However, in some instances, swelling and inflammation can interfere with this type of examination, so other factors like family history and bloodwork are factored in.
Other markers of lipedema include:
Age of onset: 10-30 years old
Family history: other female members with this disorder and same characteristics
Target areas: legs, thighs, buttocks, upper arms
Areas not affected by symptoms: feet, hands, upper torso
The target area is unaffected by calorie restriction
Medial knee fat pads are present
Hypothermia of the skin
Persistent swelling or inflammation even after elevating the lower extremities
Pain, tenderness, or sensitive to the touch in target areas
Bilateral and symmetrical target areas
Feel chronically fatigued or tired
All of these guidelines and characteristics established by lipedema research allow medical professionals like Dr. Schwartz to provide patients with the right diagnosis so they can start considering their treatment options.
Seeking help with a lipedema diagnosis
A woman with lipedema exhibits visible signs which vary by each stage of the disease. The later stages of lipedema can evolve into constant severe pain and discomfort, swelling or loss of circulation, loss of mobility, and other severe health conditions due to the strain on the lymphatic system. Dr. Schwartz will do what it takes to get his patients adequately diagnosed, considering all the lipedema guidelines while asking patients for feedback about what they are experiencing.
A board-certified plastic surgeon and lipedema specialist, Dr. Jaime Schwartz will conduct a thorough consultation and examination with each patient in order to achieve an accurate diagnosis of lipedema. His practice, Total Lipedema Care in Beverly Hills, CA, can offer patients numerous outlets of care from massage therapy to nutritional guidance. Surgical treatment options and emotional support are also part of the treatments TLC provides to patients living with lipedema.
If you are concerned about lipedema, then we encourage you to please contact Total Lipedema Care to schedule a consultation with Dr. Schwartz today. Getting the right diagnosis can give you a better quality of life tomorrow.