Lipedema: A Commonly Misdiagnosed Fat Disorder

Plast Surg Nurs. 2018 Oct/Dec;38(4):149-152. doi: 10.1097/PSN.0000000000000245.


Lipedema is a fat disorder that is often misdiagnosed. It was first identified at the Mayo Clinic in 1940, but medical schools do not include it in their curriculum and is therefore poorly understood. It presents as disproportionate and symmetrical accumulations of fat (bilateral), which is often accompanied by orthostatic edema. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial, as the disease is progressive and can lead to immobility as well as a significant decrease in the quality of life. Lipedema differs from obesity because it does not respond to diet and exercise. This article gives you a glimpse into what lipedema is about and will help you identify some differences between lipedema and lymphedema. It will also help you identify which surgical procedures have been successful in treating the disease.

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Errors / trends*
  • Humans
  • Lipedema / diagnosis*
  • Lymphedema / diagnosis