Lipedema stage 1: causes, symptoms and treatment

The disease lipedema can bring considerable challenges in everyday life for those affected. Even in the early stages, many women experience both physical and psychological limitations. What stage is your lipedema in? An assessment is incredibly important in order to find the right treatment for you.

At LIPOCURA® we know how stressful this condition can be. We would like to help you develop a better understanding of it and achieve the greatest possible freedom from symptoms for you with our holistic treatment concept.

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What is stage 1 lipedema?

Stage 1 lipedema is the first stage of the chronic fat distribution disorder that occurs mainly in women. It is characterised by disproportionate fat deposits on the legs, buttocks and sometimes the arms. In stage 1, the symptoms are often more subtle and can be easily overlooked. Those affected therefore often do not receive any support from their environment, as the findings are often only noticed by themselves. Although severe symptoms may already occur, lipedema is often dismissed by outsiders as “slightly thicker legs”.

It is not imagination. Listen to your gut feeling! Lipedema is a serious condition and cannot be completely cured by exercise, dieting or a balanced diet.

Lipedema stage 1 – images

The appearance as well as the respective symptoms of lipedema can vary from patient to patient. In the early stages, the disease is often difficult to recognise externally, but can already cause discomfort for the person affected.

This is what stage 1 lipedema can look like:

Ursachen für ein Lipödem

Causes of incipient lipedema

The exact causes of lipedema are not yet fully understood. It is assumed that genetic factors can play a role. Hormonal changes, especially during puberty or pregnancy, can make lipedema worse or cause it to appear for the first time.

For example, there is a frequency in close relatives. Often lipedema occurs more frequently in grandmothers – also on the father’s side -, mothers and daughters.

Symptoms of stage 1 lipedema

The symptoms of stage 1 lipedema can vary, but they are often subtle and can be confused with other conditions. Here are some common symptoms to look out for:

  • A disproportionate increase in fatty tissue on the legs, buttocks and/or arms that is resistant to exercise and diet.
  • The affected areas often still feel soft, but rice grain-like nodules may already be noticeable in the tissue.
  • A slight “orange peel” effect can already be seen in some cases.
  • Pressure and sensitivity to touch are more common.
  • Despite a healthy diet and regular exercise, the fatty tissue remains.
  • Possibly a feeling of coldness in the extremities due to long periods of standing or sitting.

However, you should know that these symptoms can vary from person to person. If you notice one or more of these signs, you should see a doctor who specialises in lipedema to get an accurate diagnosis.

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Patient experience – This is what lipedema stage 1 looks like

Women present to LIPOCURA® with a wide variety of lipedema stages. While some already have an exact diagnosis, others are still unsure whether they suffer from lipedema. Whatever your previous experience and your path of suffering, you have come to the right place. We take you and your current situation very seriously and want to give you back unrestricted joy of life and self-confidence.

We have already been able to help many lipedema patients with stage 1 by means of diagnosis, tips and tricks for coping with lipedema in everyday life as well as with holistic lipedema treatment. Here we show you how stage 1 lipedema can manifest itself:


Take a look at the patient story of LIPOCURA® patient Charice. She came to us with lipedema stage 1-2 and reports on her experiences in the fight against the fat distribution disorder:

Patient story Charice

The diagnosis of stage 1 lipedema

Diagnosis of stage 1 lipedema usually requires a careful examination with an eye trained in the condition and a detailed history. General practitioners – family doctors – are usually the first to be consulted for a diagnosis. This is where lipedema can be diagnosed (or ruled out). However, since lipedema has only become a medical focus in recent years, not every doctor is familiar enough with it, which makes it difficult to diagnose. It is therefore always advisable to consult a doctor who specialises in lipedema.

As part of the diagnostic process, the doctor will carry out a detailed examination. Various tests can be carried out for this purpose:

A detailed medical history is an important first step in making a diagnosis. Your specialist will ask you about your medical history, family predispositions and current symptoms. Information about symptoms such as disproportionate fat deposits, pain, tenderness or swelling and bruising can help in the assessment.

Visual assessment plays a significant role in the diagnosis of lipedema. Lipedema specialists can often tell at a glance whether there is a possibility of lipedema. They look at the affected body regions in detail and pay attention to classic areas / predilection sites.

Palpation of the skin is another important method for diagnosing stage 1 lipedema. In doing so, the doctor looks for typical features such as palpable rice grain-like nodules of tissue. Another diagnostic test that is done in conjunction with palpation of the skin is the pinch test. In this test, the skin is pinched lightly in various places. If disproportionate pain already occurs, this indicates lipedema.

Ultrasound examination is also an effective method to confirm the presence of stage 1 lipoedema. With the help of ultrasound, the specialist can check the thickness of the subcutaneous fat layer. This can tell if the otherwise slim patients are correct in their subjective assessment.

In some cases, fibrotic remodelling or lymphatic gaps may already be visible, which give a further indication of lipedema.

If we can determine that you have the beginnings of lipedema, the next step is to discuss your further treatment options with you.

Behandlung eines Lipödems in Stadium 1

Treatment of stage 1 lipedema

Treatment for lipedema aims to relieve symptoms, slow the progression of the condition to the next stage and improve your quality of life.

The common treatment methods are:

Conservative therapy includes non-surgical measures. These include, for example:

Manual lymphatic drainage

Manual lymphatic drainage is a proven method for treating lipedema. Here, a trained physiotherapist or lymph therapist performs special hand movements to stimulate the lymph flow and support the decongestion of the tissue. Gentle, rhythmic movements reduce swelling and oedema. Manual lymph drainage can help to reduce the feeling of heaviness in the affected parts of the body and relieve pain.

Compression garments

Compression stockings or trousers apply even pressure to the tissues, thereby supporting lymphatic flow. The compression garment helps to reduce swelling, stabilise the fatty tissue and control the symptoms of lipedema. It should be worn regularly and for a longer period of time to achieve a temporary improvement.

Relieving sports (e.g. swimming)

Although lipedema cannot be cured by sport, certain types of sport such as swimming have a positive effect on the disease. The water pressure results in natural lymphatic drainage, the lymph flow is stimulated, joints are spared and blood circulation is improved. However, you should pay attention to your individual limits and consult with your doctor or physiotherapist to optimally adapt the training.

Ketogenic diet

The ketogenic diet, which is characterised by the renunciation of carbohydrate intake and instead an increased fat intake, is undertaken in some cases as a supportive measure for lipedema. Inflammatory processes often assumed in connection with lipedema are supposed to be stopped in this way and complaints alleviated. In connection with a ketogenic or low-carb diet, an improvement in symptoms such as swelling or pain has been observed in some patients.


These therapeutic approaches can help to reduce swelling, stimulate lymph flow and alleviate discomfort. However, complete freedom from symptoms cannot usually be achieved with them.

So far, the only way to remove diseased fatty tissue in the long term is lipedema surgery. Conservative measures are often not sufficient to alleviate the patients’ high level of suffering – both in terms of discomfort and from an aesthetic point of view. However, because lipedema is a progressive disease, liposuction for lipedema can be the best solution. At LIPOCURA® we perform lipedema surgery on patients at all stages.

This surgical procedure can relieve pain and tenderness, reduce mobility and improve the aesthetic appearance. Liposuction, also known as liposuction, can significantly reduce the subcutaneous fat layer and in most cases even achieve complete freedom from symptoms.

Living with stage 1 lipedema

Lipedema requires continuous self-care and attention in any case. Thus, with the right, early measures, you can significantly slow down the progression of lipedema from stage 1 to stage 2. This also makes it possible to live your daily life with halfway moderate discomfort.

Here are some tips that can help you manage the condition:

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and regular exercise.
  • Avoid extremes of temperature, as both heat and cold can make symptoms worse.
  • Wear appropriate compression garments to support the pressure on the tissues and relieve your discomfort.
  • Seek support and exchange with other lipedema fighters in support groups or online forums.

Would you like more information on how to deal with the condition in everyday life? You can find this under Living with lipedema.

Will the costs of lipedema surgery be covered?

The issue of reimbursement by the health insurance fund is still difficult to keep track of. Just a few years ago, reimbursement was almost unthinkable. In a new decision from 2020, it was decided in the meantime that lipedema surgery can be covered by the health insurance under certain conditions. However, this usually refers to a very pronounced stage 3 lipedema. In any case, these are individual decisions that are closely related to the symptoms and complaints of the respective patient. It is therefore essential that you ask your health insurance company whether costs can be covered for your individual situation.


Lipedema stage 1 – your consultation with LIPOCURA®

Lipedema can be challenging, but with the right treatment and self-care, quality of life can be improved. We are committed to providing you with quality information and support. If you have any further questions or need more information, please do not hesitate to contact us. Together we can make managing stage 1 lipedema easier.

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