The 411 on Fat: Knowing the Differences Between
Lipedema Fat and “Normal” Fat
Not all fat is created equal. Here, we break down the different types of adipose tissue and explain how lipedema fat is different from “normal” fat.
What is fat and why do we need it? While fat is integral in the optimal functioning of the body’s organs, it is true you can have too much of a good thing. Essentially, fat is adipose tissue whose primary role is to store energy in the form of fat. The human body contains four very different types of adipose tissue that are stored in different areas of the body and that have different functions. Let’s look at the varieties of this type of tissue that tends to get a bad rap, why we shouldn’t fear the foreboding “F” word, and what it means for lipedema. According to Lipedema.net, the following are the four categories of fat found in the body:
Essential Adipose Tissue
This is fat that is stored in the body’s organs and bone marrow and is necessary for optimal metabolic function. Your body simply could not function without a certain level of essential adipose tissue.
This is adipose tissue found deep in the abdominal region and is the most metabolically active type of fat. Like the function of a rubber band, visceral fat expands when there is a caloric surge, and conversely, contracts when the body experiences a calorie deficit.
Subcutaneous fat is found between the skin and muscle layers and is attached to the underside of the skin’s hypodermis. The fat is essential in protecting the body’s muscles, bones, and other organs, providing a “cushion-like” effect, as well as insulation against the cold. This type of fat is less metabolically sensitive than visceral fat.
Gynoid fat is hormone-dependent subcutaneous fat that lends to the secondary, sexual characteristics of females, like the curvy hips, inner thighs, and breasts. Stimulated by the production of estrogen and progesterone, gynoid fat begins to develop in the years during puberty and is less metabolically active. This more superficial, stubborn fat is believed to contribute to lipedema fat since it’s least responsive to caloric deficits, exercise, dieting, and weight loss.
Fat Facts: Lipedema Fat vs. “Normal” Fat
As mentioned in the previous text, lipedema is the acute abnormality of subcutaneous adipose fat tissue deposition, resulting in a visual buildup of lumpy, painful fat in the lower half of the body. Common aesthetic characteristics include thick, column-like legs riddled with mottled skin. Lipedema is believed to have genetic origins and is often triggered by hormonal fluctuations in a woman’s life, such as puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. This dysfunction of fat buildup is almost completely resistant to a calorie deficit, diet, exercise, and weight loss. Lipedema fat is not smooth in the slightest and has the tell-tale texture of a gelatin sack containing small, pea-sized nodules that are often painful, causing its victims discomfort, bruising/swelling, and tenderness to the touch. This excess buildup of fat disproportionately affects the buttocks, hips, thighs, knees, calves, and ankles (and sometimes the arms), while oddly sparing the feet and hands the same unsightly fate. Oftentimes, the best doctors misdiagnose lipedema for obesity, especially in the initial stages. This medical misstep can create a detrimental, vicious cycle of extreme dieting, excessive exercising, and unhealthy calorie deficits, all contributing to diminished self-esteem, body dysmorphia, and even anorexic lipedema. It’s imperative lipedema sufferers understand their stubborn, painful fat is NOT their fault and no matter how many minutes they run on the treadmill or how much intermittent fasting they practice, it’s near next to impossible to move the needle on shedding lipedema fat. Gynoid fat is often smooth and “bouncy,” but never physically painful. Mentally? That’s another story! It also accumulates due to excessive caloric intake over time, yet is responsive to caloric deficit, diet, and exercise. Gynoid fat will usually distribute evenly amongst common “trouble zones,” such as tummy, thighs, hips, and button. Be sure you know the difference between “normal” fat you have control over and “lipedema” fat that requires strategic, treatment remedies, and ultimately surgical intervention, to help eliminate long-term.
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