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Horm Mol Biol Clin Investig. 2017 Sep 20;33(2). pii: /j/hmbci.2018.33.issue-2/hmbci-2017-0035/hmbci-2017-0035.xml. doi: 10.1515/hmbci-2017-0035.

Pilot study: whole body manual subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) therapy improved pain and SAT structure in women with lipedema.

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College of Medicine, College of Pharmacy, Department of Medical Imaging, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85714, USA.
College of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85714, USA.
Quadrivas Clinic and Academy, 1054 AK Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Background Lipedema is a common painful subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) disorder in women affecting the limbs. SAT therapy is a manual therapy to improve soft tissue quality. Objective Determine if SAT therapy improves pain and structure of lipedema SAT. Design Single arm prospective pilot study. Setting Academic medical center. Patients Seven women, 46 ± 5 years, weight 90 ± 19 kg, with lipedema. Intervention Twelve 90-min SAT therapy sessions over 4 weeks. Outcomes Dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans, SAT ultrasound (Vevo 2100), leg volumetrics, skin caliper assessment, tissue exam, weight, resting metabolic rate, pain assessment, lower extremity functional scale (LEFS) and body shape questionnaire (BSQ) at baseline and end of study. Results Weight, resting metabolic rate and BSQ did not change significantly. Limb fat over total body fat mass (p = 0.08) and trunk fat over total body mass trended down from baseline (p = 0.08) by DXA. Leg volume and caliper assessments in eight of nine areas (p < 0.007), LEFS (p = 0.002) and average pain (p = 0.007) significantly decreased from baseline. Fibrosis significantly decreased in the nodules, hips and groin. Ultrasound showed improved SAT structure in some subjects. Side effects included pain, bruising, itching, swelling and gastroesophageal reflux disease. All women said they would recommend SAT therapy to other women with lipedema. Limitations Small number of subjects. Conclusion SAT therapy in 4 weeks improved tissue structure, perceived leg function, and volume although shape was not affected. While side effects of SAT therapy were common, all women felt the therapy was beneficial.


fat; lipedema; pain; subcutaneous adipose tissue; women’s health

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