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J Mal Vasc. 2012 Jul;37(4):213-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jmv.2012.05.002. Epub 2012 Jun 13.

[Lipedema: a misdiagnosed entity].

[Article in French]

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Unité de lymphologie, centre national de référence des maladies vasculaires rares (lymphœdèmes primaires), hôpital Cognacq-Jay, 15, rue Eugène-Millon, 75015 Paris, France.


Lipedema is a clinical entity frequently misdiagnosed or confound with primary lymphedema. Lipedema is a disorder of adipose tissue that occurs almost exclusively in obese women. It is characterized by bilateral enlargement from hip to ankle due to abnormal depositions of subcutaneous fat associated with often mild edema, usually sparing the feet. Disease onset is usually at or soon after puberty. Lipedema results in considerable frustration and distress resulting from the cosmetic appearance. Patients may complain of pain, tenderness, easy bruising of the affected areas with moderate to severe sensitivity to digital pressure or pinching. Imaging studies using computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound, lymphoscintigraphy are not indicated, except if the diagnosis is atypic or doubtful. Long-term evolution may alter lymphatic system and lead to a lipo-lymphedema with specific complications such as cellulitis. Lipedema management is not codified and included weight loss (poorly improving leg appearance or discomfort), psychological counselling and compression therapy. Liposuction, especially using tumescent local anaesthesia, may reduce edema, spontaneous pain, sensitivity to pressure, bruising and improve appearance resulting in a important increase in quality of life.

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