The exact mechanism of how and why lipedema develops is still unknown. Lipedema almost exclusively occurs in women. It usually starts with phases of weight gain that are often connected to hormonal changes - such as puberty, pregnancy, use of birth control pills, and menopause. Some patients also report similar signs and symptoms of lipedema in other female family members. Therefore, genetics may also contribute to the development of lipedema. Research on a genetic predisposition for lipedema is still ongoing.
The buildup of fatty tissue in lipedema usually occurs symmetrically in both legs, especially the thighs and hips. Less frequently, both arms are involved.
The different types of lipedema used to distinguish between the affected areas of your body. However, they are not relevant for diagnosing and treating your lipedema, and healthcare professionals (HCPs) commonly don’t use them anymore.
For a long time, lipedema was supposed to progress over time. This progression was divided into four different stages (from stage 1 to stage 4). The idea was that tissue enlargement increases until the development of large lobes and prominent indurations.
Meanwhile, it is well known that there is no unavoidable progression from one stage to another. Early and holistic treatment can prevent your lipedema from getting worse. Usually, it is weight gain that is the reason for the progression of lipedema.
Learn more about lipedema treatment
How can you avoid the progression of your lipedema
The different types and stages of lipedema do not affect the treatment of your lipedema. Therefore, the classification of lipedema into different types and stages has become less meaningful. No matter which parts of your body are affected, lipedema always requires a holistic treatment.