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Frau mit Fettverteilungsstörung
6 Minutes

Fat distribution disorder: more than just weight gain

When it comes to body weight, it is well known that opinions differ. Not only do many overweight people often encounter a lack of understanding or even rejection, sometimes even the excess weight itself is deceptive. Because not every increase in body weight is the same as normal obesity. In this article, we would like to focus on a specific phenomenon that is often misinterpreted: fat distribution disorder. We will discuss what exactly is meant by this, look at the different stages of this condition, describe typical symptoms and explain what treatment can look like.

What exactly is a fat distribution disorder?

For many women, this is an everyday scenario: they eat healthily, exercise regularly and yet they hardly lose any weight. On the contrary, certain areas of the body, such as the arms and legs, seem to put on more fat than the rest. This can be quite confusing and frustrating. And is usually accompanied by a wide range of other symptoms.

This is what we call a fat distribution disorder – better known to most as Lipedema. In contrast to “normal” obesity, which is characterized by a general increase in fatty tissue in the body, a fat distribution disorder is characterized by an often disproportionate accumulation of fat in certain areas of the body, which cannot be lost. Lipedema is a chronic disease that primarily affects women and in which there is a symmetrical accumulation of fatty tissue on the extremities, i.e. arms and legs, while the trunk is usually less affected. This pattern of fat distribution clearly distinguishes Lipedema from conventional obesity and has far-reaching consequences for those affected.


Confusingly similar: Differential diagnoses for fat distribution disorder

One condition that is often confused with Lipedema is lipohypertrophy. This also leads to an increase in fatty tissue in certain areas of the body. In contrast to Lipedema, which is always painful, lipohypertrophy can also be painless. This can be a decisive factor in the diagnosis.

There are also a number of metabolic disorders, such as thyroid dysfunction, which can lead to an altered fat distribution in the body. An underactive or overactive thyroid gland can affect the entire metabolism, which in turn has an impact on body weight and the distribution of fat tissue. An apparent fat distribution disorder can therefore also conceal an undiagnosed thyroid disorder.

How does a chronic fat distribution disorder manifest itself?

A chronic fat distribution disorder, Lipedema, does not become noticeable overnight. It is a slow process that usually begins during puberty and gradually creeps into everyday life, perhaps even going unnoticed at first. When climbing stairs or after long walks, you may feel an unpleasant pulling sensation or heaviness in your legs. Or you may develop frequent bruising for no apparent reason.
In addition to the unusual accumulation of fatty tissue, however, it is above all the pain and sensitivity to pressure that make everyday life difficult for those affected. These and other symptoms often lead to limited physical activity, which can exacerbate the symptoms and also cause “normal” weight gain. Many Lipedema sufferers also suffer from obesity.

However, the chronic fat distribution disorder does not only have a physical impact on the lives of affected women. Many resign themselves to the fact that there is no visible or tangible improvement and are also dissatisfied with their own appearance, withdraw from their social environment and no longer feel at home in their own body.

What stages does the fat distribution disorder have?

The fat distribution disorder Lipedema usually develops gradually and can be divided into different stages. In the early stages, the symptoms are often mild and may include slight swelling and slightly painful skin. As the disease progresses, these symptoms increase and in later stages there can be considerable deformation and fibrotization of the connective tissue in the form of palpable and visible “noodles” under the skin, which not only restrict mobility but can also lead to psychological stress. This stage classification helps specialists and sufferers to better understand the progression of the disease and develop appropriate treatment strategies.

Stage 1:
In the first stage, the skin is still smooth, but there is already a noticeable thickening of the subcutaneous fatty tissue, especially on the legs and arms. In addition, so-called orange peel skin often forms. This stage is often overlooked as it can be mistaken for normal weight fluctuations.

Stage 2:
In the second stage, the skin becomes uneven and the fatty tissue feels lumpy. The increase in (fibrotic) tissue can no longer be overlooked and the symptoms and accompanying symptoms increase.

Stage 3:
Uncontrolled skin changes increase significantly. The fatty tissue has hardened considerably and forms larger, clearly visible lumps, the skin hangs down. The pain may become more intense, chafing may occur and mobility may be severely restricted. Lymphoedema may also develop.

Tips for dealing with fat distribution disorder

In everyday life, the effects of a fat distribution disorder pose a number of challenges, not only physically but also mentally. Many sufferers feel frustrated and discouraged. It is therefore important to celebrate even small successes and to come to terms with the condition in everyday life to a large extent, so that the burden is minimized and the quality of life is increased again.

Helpful tips include

  • Keep your eyes open when choosing clothes: Choose loose cuts to avoid pressure points. Elastic fabrics and flowing materials offer comfort and look stylish.
  • Don’t have any expectations: Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself to lose weight if it doesn’t give you the results you want.
  • Medical advice: Consult Lipedema specialists to create a suitable treatment plan.
  • Conservative therapy: In addition to surgical liposuction, you should not neglect accompanying measures such as lymphatic drainage, compression therapy and adapted exercise.
  • Self-care: Allow yourself some time for yourself and pay attention to your gut feeling.
  • Become part of the community: Get in touch with other Lipedema sufferers to share experiences and support.

Treating Lipedema: Liposuction for fat distribution disorders

There are various conservative therapies for an existing Lipedema disorder, including

  • Compression garments
  • Manual lymph drainage
  • physiotherapy

Although such measures have a supportive effect and can help to alleviate symptoms, they do not tackle the cause of lipoedema – the uneven distribution of fat itself. Over time, these conservative methods reach their limits as the excess fat persists and the associated discomfort such as pain, swelling and restricted movement continues to interfere with daily life.

Liposuction can offer an effective treatment option here. Liposuction for Lipedema, more commonly known as liposuction, is a surgical procedure that involves the targeted removal of excess, abnormal fatty tissue. For women with Lipedema, this procedure can provide significant relief as it reduces the volume of the affected extremities and can therefore also reduce pain and the frequency of swelling. In addition, the removal of the diseased fatty tissue often also improves mobility, which in turn enables a more active lifestyle and thus significantly improves quality of life.

The decision to undergo liposuction is usually made after a comprehensive consultation and diagnosis by specialized specialists. They will assess how advanced the Lipedema is and whether an operation is advisable. However, you should know that liposuction for Lipedema should always be part of a holistic treatment approach that also includes physiotherapeutic measures, an adapted diet and regular exercise.

Advice and treatment by experienced specialists

As specialists with many years of experience in the treatment of Lipedema, we at LIPOCURA® support our patients with both advice and surgery. With over 1,200 operations a year, we have already given many women new strength and a new zest for life.

We know that every patient has her own individual experiences, complaints and needs. We therefore attach great importance to ensuring that every patient feels understood and in good hands. Of course, the first step towards treatment is often the most difficult. We also take this into account in our consultation and want to make it as easy as possible for you. You have the opportunity to discuss your concerns, questions and fears openly in an atmosphere of trust. We take the time to understand your individual situation, make a comprehensive diagnosis and develop a tailor-made treatment plan on this basis.

A key aspect of our treatment is the surgical removal of abnormal fatty tissue by means of liposuction. This procedure can not only significantly reduce the visible symptoms of fat distribution disorders, but can often also have a lasting effect. After a successful operation, the abnormal fat cells are permanently removed. Patients regularly report a significant visual improvement, which leads to a new, positive body image, but also to a significant improvement in pain symptoms.

Do you possibly suffer from a fat distribution disorder? Let’s find out together – make an appointment at our consultation.

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Testimonials from our Lipedema fighters

After liposuction for Lipedema, many of our patients experience a significant change in their lives. In emotional testimonials, they share insights into their life after the operation and talk about, among other things, the new self-confidence that comes from the improved body contour and the reduction in discomfort.

Take a look at the testimonials of our satisfied Lipedema patients.


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