The key difference between lipedema and lymphedema is that lipedema is a chronic disorder of fat metabolism and distribution that manifests as a disproportional amount of fats that are stored on the lower half of the body, while lymphedema is a disorder of excess fluid build-up in the arms or lower legs.
Edema is the medical term for swelling. Body parts can swell from injury, inflammation, or hormones’ effects. It can affect a small area or the entire human body. Lipedema and lymphedema are two distinct medical disorders that result in swelling in the legs and arms. Lipedema involves pathologic fat deposits in the arms and legs. Lymphedema is a disorder of the lymphatic system that causes the dysfunction in the flow of lymph fluid, causing builds up in the arms and legs.
What is Lipedema?
Lipedema is a condition of an abnormal build-up of fats in the legs and sometimes in the arms. It can be a painful condition and can affect daily life. It is a condition that is exclusively found in women. Women of any weight may develop lipedema. Typically, it gets worse over time, and there is no permeant cure. The sufferers may bruise very easily. Over time, mobility decreases. Due to reduced quality of life, the sufferers often experience depression.
Lipedema may affect 11% of the women. The typical symptoms are a large lower half and column-like legs and a heavier lower body. Unlike obesity, lipedema targets legs, thighs, and sometimes arms. Lipedema does not start in the lower legs, but it starts in the upper legs. It affects both legs. The cause of lipedema is not known. Doctors believe females hormones play a role. This is because this condition mostly affects women, and it often begins at puberty, during pregnancy, following gynecologic surgery or around the time of menopause. It can be diagnosed through venous Doppler ultrasound and lymphoscintigraphy. A treatment known as complete decongestive therapy can ease painful symptoms.
What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a long-term condition where excess fluid collects in tissues that causes swelling. The lymphatic system is a part of our immune system and very important for immune function. Lymphedema is usually caused due to blockage of the lymphatic system. Lymphedema commonly affects one of the arms or legs. Sometimes, the patient might experience swellings in the head, genitals, or chest.
Primary lymphedema is caused due to mutations in some of the genes that are involved in the development of the lymphatic system. Secondary lymphedema has several causes, such as cancer surgery, radiation therapy, infections, inflammations, cardiovascular diseases and injury. It can be diagnosed through MRI, CT scan, or Doppler ultrasound scan. Treatments are focused on reducing the swelling and controlling the pain and include exercises, wrapping arms or legs, massage, pneumatic compression, and complete decongestive therapy.
What are the Similarities Between Lipedema and Lymphedema?
- Lipedema and lymphedema are types of edema.
- Both are medical disorders that affect humans.
- They can affect arms or legs.
- They can be treated with similar treatment methods, such as complete decongestive therapy that ease the painful symptoms.
- Both are chronic conditions.
What is the Difference Between Lipedema and Lymphedema?
Lipedema is a chronic disorder of fat metabolism and distribution that usually manifests as a disproportional amount of fats that are stored on the lower half of the body. But, on the other hand, lymphedema is a chronic disorder of excess fluid build-up in the arms or lower legs. So, this is the key difference between lipedema and lymphedema. Moreover, lipedema is exclusively found in women, while lymphedema is found in both males and females.
Below is a list of differences between lipedema and lymphedema in tabular form.
Summary – Lipedema vs Lymphedema
Lipedema and lymphedema are two distinct medical disorders that are characterized by swelling. Both involve swelling in the arms and legs. Lipedema does not involve the lymphatic system. Lipedema is the pathologic fat deposits in the arms and legs. In contrast, lymphedema is a condition associated with the lymphatic system. It is caused due to the dysfunction in the flow of lymph fluid, which builds up in the arms and legs. Thus, this is the summary of the difference between lipedema and lymphedema.
1. “Lipedema: Symptoms, Treatment, Diet, Causes, and More.” WebMD, WebMD, Available here.
2. “Lymphedema: Symptoms, Treatments, and Causes.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, Available here.