New Insights on Lipedema: The Enigmatic Disease of the Peripheral Fat

Anna Theresa Bauer, Dominik von Lukowicz, Katrin Lossagk, Matthias Aitzetmueller, Philipp Moog, Michael Cerny, Holger Erne, Daniel Schmauss, Dominik Duscher, Hans Guenther Machens

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39 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Although a large number of adult women worldwide are affected by lipedema, the physiologic conditions triggering onset and progression of this chronic disease remain enigmatic. In the present study, a descriptive epidemiologic situation of postoperative lipedema patients is presented. METHODS: The authors developed an online survey questionnaire for lipedema patients in Germany. The survey was conducted on 209 female patients who had been diagnosed with lipedema and had undergone tumescent liposuction. RESULTS: Most of the participants (average age, 38.5 years) had noticed a first manifestation of the disease at the age of 16. It took a mean of 15 years to accomplish diagnosis. Liposuction led to a significant reduction of pain, swelling, tenderness, and easy bruising as confirmed by the majority of patients. Hypothyroidism [n = 75 (35.9 percent) and depression [n = 48 (23.0 percent)] occurred at a frequency far beyond the average prevalence in the German population. The prevalence of diabetes type 1 [n = 3 (1.4 percent)], and diabetes type 2 [n = 2 (1 percent)] was particularly low among the respondents. Forty-seven of the lipedema patients (approximately 22.5 percent) suffered from a diagnosed migraine. Following liposuction, the frequency and/or intensity of migraine attacks became markedly reduced, as stated by 32 patients (68.1 percent). CONCLUSIONS: Quality of life increases significantly after surgery with a reduction of pain and swelling and decreased tendency to easy bruising. The high prevalence of hypothyroidism in lipedema patients could be related to the frequently observed lipedema-associated obesity. The low prevalence of diabetes, dyslipidemia, and hypertension appears to be a specific characteristic distinguishing lipedema from lifestyle-induced obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1475-1484
Number of pages10
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019


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