What is lipedema, inflammation that is confused with cellulite and causes pain


An inflammation that causes holes and swelling in the limbs and, even today, is confused with cellulite and obesity. But, unlike other conditions, which diet and physical activity can help, its most effective treatment is surgery.

Called lipedema, but also known as painful fat syndrome, the disease won search platforms and social networks after influencer and former BBB, Amanda Djehdian, disclosed that she had surgery to remove excess adipose tissue from her legs. In Brazil, the condition affects about 1 in 10 women, according to a study.

The disease is characterized by the accumulation of fat in the arms, hips and legs, which causes inflammation and tissue fibrosis. The condition is painful, and is accompanied by swelling and bruising.

Plastic surgeon Fábio Kamamoto, director of Instituto Lipedema Brasil and creator of the NGO Movimento Lipedema, says that the psychological impact is also very great. According to the professional, the disease can also cause self-image and eating disorders.

Lipedema mainly affects women. The doctor says that the main factor for the development of the condition are changes in the production of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Therefore, the disease usually appears during adolescence, when hormonal cycles begin, or in other periods that impact the production of these substances, such as pregnancy and menopause.

It is common for the syndrome to be confused with obesity or cellulite, but unlike these conditions, patients with lipedema have a disproportionate accumulation of fat in the limbs in relation to the rest of the body and greater sensitivity in the affected region, in addition to feeling pain.

The syndrome also cannot be treated only with dietary re-education and physical exercises as in most cases of cellulite and obesity and, as it is related to the hormonal cycle, it has progressive growth. If left untreated, the disease can cause difficulty in walking and joint damage, such as in the knees.

Because it is a genetic condition, it is not possible to prevent its development. Kamamoto says, however, that there are steps to be taken. Those who have cases in the family or are developing the condition should avoid hormone treatments, such as the use of contraceptives or drugs to get pregnant.

The doctor also claims that an anti-inflammatory diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, performing massage and lymphatic drainage and practicing low-impact physical exercises can alleviate symptoms and reduce discomfort, although they do not cure the disease.

The most effective treatment is surgery, performed through liposuction of accumulated fat so that diseased cells are removed. Kamamoto says that after surgery the disease does not return and the patient’s quality of life improves, both functionally and aesthetically.

According to the doctor, many professionals are still unaware of this condition. Despite being scientifically described at least since the 1940s, it was only officially recognized as a disease by the ICD (International Classification of Diseases) in early 2022.

In Brazil, it is estimated that lipedema affects up to 5 million people. For the doctor, raising awareness among the public and other doctors about the condition has the potential to improve the quality of life for many people and, in the future, ensure treatment through the SUS (Sistema Único de Saúde) and through private health plans. .

According to Angiologist and Vascular Surgeon, José Luiz Cataldo, member of the Commission on Lymphatic Diseases of the Brazilian Society of Angiology and Vascular Surgery, the condition is little known by most health professionals and is not yet a specialty of a single medical clinic.

Angiologists are the ones who receive the most patients, who confuse the condition with a disease of vascular origin. He clarifies, however, that the diagnosis can also be made by other professionals, such as general practitioners and plastic surgeons.

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