Lipedema or Lymphedema?

For many patients lipedema may be misdiagnosed as lymphedema1. For doctors unfamiliar with lipedema, these two disorders can look very similar.  A misdiagnosis results in frustration for the patient who undergoes treatment for lymphedema with poor results.

Lymphedema is swelling under the skin caused by fluid accumulation in the individual’s lymphatic system.  Typically the swollen tissue will indent if you press it, but this isn’t the case with lipedema.  Dr. David Amron advises his lipedema patients that eventually they may develop lymphedema, a condition known as lipo-lymphedema.

The diagnosis of lipedema is difficult if the physician is unfamiliar with this condition. Often, women are told that they are obese and should just lose weight to resolve the problem.  It’s important for lipedema patients to understand that the fatty tissue accompanying this condition cannot be decreased by diet or exercise!  

Dr. David Amron employs a comprehensive approach in diagnosing and treating his lipedema patients. He has a close working relationship with Dr. Karen Herbst, a world renowned medical authority on fat disorders, such as lipedema.  Drs. Amron and Herbst work to establish pre and post-surgical protocols for lipedema patients and consult with each other to optimize patient care.  

Dr. Amron employs a team of lipedema specialists, including a Vodder trained MLD therapist, nutritionist, and hormonal evaluation. These services are often recommended for the medical management for this disorder.  This team is  working together to establish protocols, and also collaborating on studies among lipedema patients to not only advance therapies, but also to increase awareness, so that possibly one day, lipedema might be more recognized by health insurance companies in terms of coverage.

What are some of the Medical Management Therapies?

Lipedema patients are not only suffering from the aesthetic effects of the disease, which creates emphasis on disproportionate areas, but they also suffer in terms of their lifestyles. Patients begin to experience a viscous cycle of worsening swelling and pain, such that they can’t properly exercise, which certainly makes the condition worse, and often leads to disability.

Medical literature demonstrates that medical management can sometimes be helpful in improving pain and tenderness and preventing or reducing swelling. However, Dr. Amron stresses these therapies often have little effect on the fatty tissue.

Some of the treatments are designed to improve the flow and drainage of fluid in your tissues, such as:

  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is  techniques that help encourage the flow of fluid through your body
  • Compression Decongestive Therapy (CDT) therapy – bandages or garments that squeeze the affected limbs

What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)?

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is a therapeutic massage used to stimulate the movement of fluids in the tissues. MLD provides a rhythmic, pumping, massage which follows the direction of lymph flow and produce rapid results. MLD assists the cutaneous lymphatics in picking up and removing not just fluids, but all the waste products, protein particles and debris from a patient’s body. Dr. Amron employs a Vodder trained MLD therapist to work with his lipedema patients.

What is Comprehensive Decongestive Therapy (CDT)?

Comprehensive Decongestive Therapy (CDT) is used primarily in the treatment of lymphedema and venous insufficiency edema. It is a combination of MLD, bandaging exercises and skin care. CDT may also involve breathing exercises, compressive garments and dietary measures.

To learn more about diagnosing and treating lipedema and to see if you are a candidate for Dr. David Amron’s comprehensive lipedema treatment program, CALL: 424-394-1610 to schedule your personalized consultation.


1“There are several significant clinical differences between lipedema and bilateral primary lymphedema.”  See article for more information.