Causes and Types of Lipoedema

The cause of lipoedema is still unknown. Besides an association with hormonal changes and phases of weight gain, a family history (genetic predisposition) can also play a role. 

Causes and Types of Lipoedema

Causes of lipoedema

The exact mechanism of how and why lipoedema develops is still unknown. Lipoedema 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. Patients also report similar signs and symptoms to other family members who have a lipoedema diagnosis. Therefore, genetics may also contribute to the development of lipoedema. Research on a genetic predisposition for lipoedema is still ongoing.

Types of lipoedema

The buildup of fatty tissue in lipoedema usually occurs symmetrically in both legs, especially the thighs and hips. Less frequently, both arms are affected.

Healthcare professionals (HCPs) don’t tend to use 'type' terminology anymore. The different types of lipoedema were historically used to distinguish between the different affected areas of your body. However, they are not relevant for diagnosing and treating your lipoedema.

Stages of lipoedema

For a long time, lipoedema was thought 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 skin thickening.

Meanwhile, it is well known that there is no unavoidable progression from one stage to another. Early and holistic treatment can prevent your lipoedema from getting worse. Usually, it is weight gain that is the cause of the progression.

Learn more about lipoedema treatment

How can you avoid the progression of your lipoedema

The different types and stages of lipoedema do not affect the treatment of your lipoedema. Therefore, the classification of lipoedema into different types and stages has become less meaningful. No matter which parts of your body are affected, lipoedema always requires  holistic treatment.

Up next

Diagnosis of Lipoedema

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