Skinny with large legs? Look into it

After spending over 15 years trying to understand why I couldn’t lose weight on my legs with diet and exercise, a medical diagnosis revealed the cause

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Lipedema fat nodules seen under the skin
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This was my grandma; you can tell by the picture that she had lipo-lymphedema, an advanced stage of the disease
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The four stages of lipedema. Usually, the disease starts on stage 1 and progresses with time
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The five types of lipedema: Type 1 (buttocks); Type 2 (buttocks, hips, and thighs); Type 3 (hips, thighs, and calves); Type 4 (arms); Type 5 (calves)

The symptoms

These are some of the main symptoms of lipedema:

  • Pain and heavy feeling on legs
  • Legs that bruise easily
  • Family history
  • Hyper-sensibility to the touch
  • Skin that has low elasticity, often times very fair and transparent
  • Cold skin, especially on legs
  • Hyper-mobility (some also have EDS, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome)
  • Fatigue
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, such as vitamin D, B12, iron, magnesium, etc.
  • Thyroid issues are also common, such as hypothyroidism

The treatments

Lipedema has no cure, however, there are some treatments that help:

  • MLD, dry brushing, gua-sha, vibration, trampolines, and anything that helps move fluid and blood
  • Light exercise, like walking, cycling, pilates, and especially aquatic exercises (swimming, etc.) are most recommended because the water pressure acts as natural compression on the skin. High-impact exercises, such as running, are not recommended, because they aggravate the disease
  • Some people claim to have lost weight and managed the disease with paleo/AIP and keto diets
  • There are also recommended supplements that help with symptoms. Dr. Karen Herbst, one of the main specialists on the subject, has a great list
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One of the most famous pictures of lipedema, on an anorexic woman; unlike normal fat, the disease does not respond to caloric restrictions

The emotional component

Until now, I’ve pretty much only talked about the medical aspects of the disease, but I can’t leave out another main aspect of the disease: the emotional component. Most women who suffer from lipedema spend their whole lives wondering what they’ve done wrong — even a quick search on Google for “fat legs” or “thick legs” results on a plethora of articles about exercises to shape your legs, get rid of cankles, and so on.

Spreading awareness about lipedema.

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