Lipedema Specialist Blog

What Causes Lipedema And Who Gets It?


Lipedema causes abnormal fat accumulation in specific areas of the body as a chronic condition. The fat gets accompanied by fluid swelling. Lipedema may eventually culminate into lymphedema because of other changes. Fortunately, safe and proven surgical treatments are now available to address this condition and restore desirable contours.

Plastic Surgery Institute of Atlanta (PSI), led by plastic surgeon Dr. Paul McCluskey, provides lipedema treatments to patients in Atlanta, Marietta, Georgia, and surrounding locations.

What Causes Lipedema And Who Gets It?

Lipedema Causes

Underlying cause of lipedema is not known. Generally, symptoms may begin to arise during puberty. However, they may also occur during menopause and pregnancy. It is possible for lipedema to be triggered because of other significant hormonal changes.

Lipedema also implies a connection between the hormonal changes and their onset. This is not surprising when you consider the role of estrogen, progesterone, and other female hormones in normal fat deposition. Adipocytes and fat cells have estrogen receptors that direct cell behavior.

There is a strong hereditary component to lipedema which is why some women get it and others do not. More than 15% women with lipedema usually have a family history.

What Makes Lipedema Worse?

Fluid circulation appears to be abnormal in patients with lipedema. This can promote swelling. Blood vessels that feed fat deposits are known to be leaky and fragile in women with lipedema. This suggests that fat tissue in lipedema patients is prone to accumulating fluids.

Skin of individuals with lipedema tends to have less elasticity. This again enhances their susceptibility to increased fluid accumulation. This is because tension created by skin elasticity applies pressure on the underlying tissue. This pressure may cause fluid to enter into the lymphatic system. It may also cause the fluid to pump through the venous system because of muscle contraction.

A core driver of lipedema is an inability of the fat tissue to maintain fluid balance. This is one of the reasons why lipedema is usually observed in the lower body as compared to the upper one.

More Pressure in Lower Body Fat

Fat tissue in the lower body is under more pressure for maintaining fluid balance as compared to the upper body. This makes the lower body more susceptible to swelling. Gravity adds to the accumulation of fluid in the lower half of the body, especially in the fat tissue. This enhances demand on the lymphatic and venous systems for draining fluid from the area.

Fluid accumulation because of gravity is one of the reasons why people with healthy lymphatic and blood vessels can have swelling in their feet during the night or when they are standing and sitting for a prolonged time.

This means that fat tissue in the lower half of the body is disproportionately prone to fluid accumulation. Patients with lipedema have abnormalities in fluid circulation. This can enhance their swelling.

This would also mean that patients that have lipedema are more prone to fluid accumulation in the legs as opposed to their upper bodies. Cosmetic surgeon Dr. Paul McCluskey receives patients from Atlanta, Marietta, Georgia, and nearby areas for lipedema surgery.

Contact Marietta, Georgia Plastic Surgeon Dr. Paul McCluskey at the Plastic Surgery Institute of Atlanta for a Consultation

For more information on procedures and treatments offered by Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Paul McCluskey and the Plastic Surgery Institute of Atlanta, visit:

Serving patients in and around Marietta, Atlanta, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Alpharetta, Buckhead, Morningside/Lenox Park, Virginia-Highland, Candler Park, Midtown, Inman Park, Poncey-Highland, Ormewood Park, Georgia and other surrounding areas.

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