Before discussing lipedema stages 1 and 2 in detail, let’s discuss what lipedema is. Classified as a lymphatic disease, it affects primarily women, especially those experiencing a fluctuation in hormones. The stages of lipedema are typically experienced by women in their 30s. It can show up during any change in hormones, such as going through puberty, becoming pregnant, or reaching menopause.
Although stage 1 and stage 2 of lipedema resemble some of the side-effects of a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, including a buildup of fat and fluid in the buttocks, hips, legs, and sometimes the upper arms, it has nothing to do with caloric intake or lifestyle. Lipedema can have life-threatening effects if it isn’t treated, which is why it’s important to identify each stage of the issue to ensure optimal treatment. Let’s begin with stages 1 and 2.
Lipedema Stage 1
Since lipedema mimics the appearance and symptoms of being overweight, many people going through lipedema stage 1 may not realize that anything is amiss beyond weight gain. However, this is not a regular fluctuation of weight. Instead, fat and extra fluid accumulate in the ankles and calves, as well as the hips and buttocks. If you are experiencing stage 1, then you may notice your body becoming more pear-shaped from the waist down. Stage 1 can also result in discomfort, specifically in the legs. That discomfort may be relieved by elevating your legs, especially at night, or wearing compression socks, leggings, or other garments.
At this stage, lipedema can be successfully treated in several ways. In addition to using compression garments, you can also adopt a healthier diet. Gentle exercise can be helpful, as well. Swimming and water aerobics are two great activities for people with lipedema because they are both easy on the joints. Massage therapy is another option that can give relief.
Lipedema Stage 2
At stage 2, lipedema may be mistaken for cellulite due to changes in the texture of the skin. Fat continues to build up during this stage, which restricts the flow of blood. That’s what leads to the appearance of dimpled skin that often resembles cellulite. However, affected areas are extremely soft as well as being lumpy.
Compression garments won’t work as well during this lipedema stage because the condition begins to affect the lymphatic system more significantly. It’s at this point that you may want to discuss the possibility of liposuction as a treatment for your lipedema. Because your symptoms may become more concerning, not to mention more visible, seeking medical help is beneficial. Since lipedema can be mistaken for other issues, it’s important to take note of all the symptoms you’ve been experiencing.
Receiving a Lipedema Diagnosis
Being diagnosed with lipedema can be a journey, particularly since stage 1 lipedema presents with few symptoms that can be easily mistaken for other conditions. If you start to see a thickening of your lower legs and hips, try to note the details, especially if you notice symptoms following pregnancy or during perimenopause or menopause. Between stages 1 and 2, you may also notice that you bruise more easily in addition to experiencing pain in your legs. Your skin may get looser in affected areas.
Possible Lipedema Treatments
We’ve mentioned a few treatment options that can help to ease your discomfort during the early lipedema stages, but it’s worth it to take a closer look at the different possibilities available to you. Your plastic surgeon will work with you to come up with a treatment plan that you feel comfortable with, depending on the stage and severity of the condition.
A lymphatic massage might decrease the amount of pain you experience. Also known as manual lymphatic drainage, it stimulates the lymph flow in your body, focusing on areas where there are blockages. This allows the lymph to flow through healthy vessels, where it can then drain. It can also help keep you from experiencing fibrosis.
Compressing the affected areas should also improve your symptoms. Look for socks, stretchy bandages, shorts, or even special pantyhose. The pressure created by the compression garments will help to prevent the buildup of fluid.
In lipedema stage 1, exercise can decrease the buildup of fluid and enhance your mobility, allowing you to work your legs more easily and freely. However, to treat stage 2 lipedema and beyond, liposuction is a possibility. Power-assisted or water-assisted liposuction will remove the excess fat tissue.
Dr. Salameh can provide answers whether you are experiencing stage 1 of lipedema or stage 2. Call to arrange a consultation today.