Lipedema and cellulite: are they the same?

When the warm season arrives, concerns about our physical appearance begin. Bathing suits reveal parts that are hidden in the cold of winter. It is the season of diets and treatments to look better. Although the focus of attention in women is the area of the buttocks and legs. At that time, consultations about cellulite and lipedema grow, two disorders that are not the same and have their differences. Although they are related to aesthetic medicine, it is a problem that affects and diminishes the general wellbeing of the person.

Results after two liposuctions completed to relieve lipedema pain. The surgeon removed about 6 liters of fat from the entire legs, from the hip to the ankle – Wikimedia Commons
What is lipedema?

Lipedema is a progressive disease of fat tissue. It causes disproportionate, symmetrical and atypical accumulation of adipose tissue. This fat accumulation is localized in the buttocks, abdomen and legs. In more advanced stages, it can also concentrate in the arms. It affects the yellow fat, which is the deepest. Cellulite, on the other hand, is more superficial.

Lipedema has its origin in hormonal and genetic problems and does not respond to treatment with physical exercise or diet. Cellulite is caused, among other factors, by poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, among others. Physical exercise and diets are very good to fight cellulite.

It is a condition that causes pain in the localized area. It is also common the appearance of hematomas. This disease is not associated with obesity. Many women who suffer from it are not obese.

Lipedema is hereditary and appears in puberty and adolescence, when hormonal changes begin in women. For that reason, it is related to estrogens and progesterone.

Since it is not related to obesity, losing weight does not reduce inflammation in the affected areas. Even, when doing physical exercise, a very strong pain is felt in the areas where it is localized.

It is also one of the causes of the appearance of vascular “spider veins” on the sides of the thighs, due to pressure on the subcutaneous vessels. The hematomas already mentioned in the previous paragraph also tend to appear, even without receiving any blow.

Cellulitis and the differences with lipedema.

Cellulite is an alteration of the subcutaneous tissue. It appears due to the accumulation of fluid or toxins, which causes an increase in adipose tissue. Because of the irregular appearance of the skin, it is known as “orange peel”.

Cellulite is also not associated with obesity. There are cases reported in women with slender legs. The fat cells increase in size, compressing the surrounding tissues.

Lipedema is not related to obesity.

As circulatory distress increases, proteins and plasma accumulate and stagnate in the subcutaneous tissue. As the proteins do not drain, the tissue begins to accumulate water, which produces edema and pressure in the area. The accumulated proteins generate collagen, causing the adipocytes to group together to form fatty nodules. Over time, the so-called orange peel skin appears.

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