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Diagnosis of Lipedema

Diagnosis of lipedema can be challenging because lipedema is often misunderstood or mistaken for obesity or lymphedema. Sometimes, those conditions even appear together.

There is no specific test or tool to diagnose lipedema. This makes the diagnosis difficult, and many patients struggle without a correct diagnosis for a long time. However, the awareness of the disease among healthcare professionals (HCPs) is increasing.

Who diagnoses lipedema?

Your general practitioner (GP) or an experienced nurse is likely to be your first contact person when you notice any signs or symptoms of lipedema.

Your HCP will do a complete check-up of your body, including the examination of your skin and soft tissues and the function of the arteries and veins. In addition, blood samples provide information about the function of your heart, kidneys, liver, and thyroid gland. A hemogram (blood count) is used to check your glucose and protein levels, among others.

This is especially important to rule out any other reasons for your disease. Symmetrical swelling of your limbs may be due to other reasons like lymphedema, obesity, heart failure, kidney or liver dysfunction, drugs, venous diseases, or gravitational edema.

How is lipedema diagnosed?

Basic diagnostics

Your medical history and the physical exam of your body are the main elements in the diagnosis of lipedema. Here are some typical questions that your HCP will ask you:

Your HCP will examine your affected limbs as well. This usually includes the following steps:

Learn more about typical signs and symptoms of lipedema

Advanced diagnostics

Your medical history and the examination of your affected limbs are often enough for the diagnosis of lipedema. Your HCP may need further information, for example, when you have other diseases that can cause your symptoms. There are a few diagnostic tools that can help to distinguish between lymphedema and lipedema, to rule out any diseases of your venous system, or to decide whether the diseases occur together:

An early diagnosis and treatment of lipedema can prevent the progression of your lipedema. Be aware of your body and stay in contact with your HCP when you notice any changes or new signs and symptoms.