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Difference Between Lipedema and Lymphedema

Characteristic Comparison

Lipedema and lymphedema share many common traits but are uniquely different. The table below compares the cause, symptoms and effects of each:

Characteristic

Lipedema

Lymphedema

Sex Female only Both
Age of onset Puberty* Puberty
Family history 40% 20%
Obesity Yes Variable
Symmetry Always Sometimes
Swollen Feet Never Usually
Skin consistency Normal to thin Thick to firm
Pitting of skin Absent Always
Bruising Often No increase
Pain Often Infrequent
Tenderness Often Infrequent
Dieting Little effect on legs Even loss from trunk to legs

Lipedema

Lipedema is a chronic, progressive accumulation of fat in the tissue just below the skin that almost exclusively affects women. Generally only the lower extremities are affected (hips, buttocks, legs); however, lipedema can occur in the arms as well. Visually, lipedema can best be described as symmetric enlargement of the limbs, combined with tenderness and easy bruising. Patients that suffer from lipedema have soft rubber-like skin that may include small fatty lumps (nodules) within the tissues in later stages. Pressure with the thumb does not leave an indentation (no pitting) in lipedema. The underlying cause for the development of lipedema is associated with hormonal disorders and heredity. Learn more+

Lymphedema

Lymphedema tends to occur after puberty (but can occur at any age) with foot and ankle swelling. It can affect both males and females. While lipedema always affects both legs symmetrically (bilateral appearance), primary lymphedema usually affects only one leg. The feet in lymphedema are involved in the swelling, and a diagnostic indicator known as the Stemmer sign is positive. Pitting of the skin is invariably present. The cause for the onset of lymphedema are malformations of the lymphatic system.


Dr. Marcia Byrd and her team of experts care for patients throughout the United States and abroad. Locally, Dr. Byrd services the North Atlanta, GA area including Roswell GA, Alpharetta GA, Milton GA, Woodstock GA, Canton GA, Dunwoody GA, Sandy Springs, GA and more. If you suspect that you suffer from Lipedema, call (770) 587-1711 and schedule a consultation. Be the best you can be and live a full life – there is no reason to wait!