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Lipedema is a disorder almost exclusive to women where abnormal fatty deposits accumulate beneath the skin usually beginning at the hips and in the legs down to the ankles (men seem to only be affected when they have a severe hormonal imbalance).  Both legs become symmetrically swollen, and the affected areas become painful, sensitive to touch, and bruise easily.  These fatty tissues do not tend to go away with diet and exercise.

Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) is the standard of care for lipedema.  Treatment is to be performed by a certified lymphedema therapist, and generally includes evaluation, manual lymph drainage, multilayered compression bandaging, exercise, compression garments and education in self-care.  If it is a case of true lipedema, the reduction in limb size with CDT is usually limited to about 10-14%, so the main focus is generally on compression and weight loss or weight control to decrease the risk of additionally developing lymphedema. When lymphedema is not present, compression while sleeping is not usually necessary.

Some of the best exercise for people with lipedema is

• Walking
• Aquatic-jogging
• Cardio-vascular (cross training)
• Swimming
• Inline skating

When lipedema progresses to a stage where the size of the fatty deposits block the flow of lymphatic fluid, it can cause lymphedema.  The condition is then called lipo-lymphedema, which is treated more similarly to lymphedema.