What is lipedema? Understanding the condition is essential for both patients and their caregivers. We don’t know everything about lipedema, but the information available about its causes, symptoms, and treatment options can help you to recognize the symptoms and learn how to manage them. As a patient, you can learn about lipedema exercises to provide relief. As a caregiver, you can become familiar with the condition, how it presents, and what you can do to help a patient or loved one living with the condition.
What Is Lipedema?
Lipedema is a condition that affects adipose tissue. Specifically, fat gathers around the legs, buttocks, and hips, with a focus on the areas of the calves and thighs. In some cases, excess fat will also accumulate around the upper arms. Edema, or swelling, occurs in these areas. In some cases, it may resemble cellulite, but at the beginning of lipedema, the fat masses are larger and softer.
Typically, the condition will present during times of hormone disruption, such as puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. There’s no cure for lipedema, but there are treatment options available. There are also lifestyle changes that provide relief, such as lipedema exercises and a nutritious diet.
However, lipedema presents in four stages. While diet and exercise may help during stages 1 and 2, different treatments are generally recommended for stages 3 and 4.
How to Care for Someone with Lipedema
It helps to know what lipedema is, but it’s only half the battle. Because we don’t know a specific cause for lipedema, it can be hard for caregivers to understand the condition or know how to help their loved ones or patients. As lipedema progresses, it can stretch the skin and harden the tissues, which affects the patient’s mobility. The condition may cause rashes and other skin irritations, as well.
Do what you can to help your loved one or patient get to appointments with their doctor or plastic surgeon. Encourage mobility as much as possible. Put the patient in touch with support and therapy groups for people with the same or similar conditions.
How to Treat Lipedema
Non-surgically, there are a few ways to treat lipedema, at least in the early stages. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and other nutritious foods can provide some relief, as can staying hydrated. Elevate your legs as much as possible and consider wearing compression garments to alleviate the strain. Certain lipedema exercises work, too. Stick to low-impact activities, including biking, walking, swimming, water aerobics, and light yoga. As the condition progresses, liposuction may be beneficial. In the later stages, your plastic surgeon may also recommend the removal of excess skin, which occurs as skin loses its elasticity.
The friendly team at Salameh Plastic Surgery is here to help you look and feel your best at all times! Contact us to discuss any of our services, and you can follow our blog to learn more about what lipedema is.