Disability and emotional symptoms in women with lipedema: A comparison with overweight/obese women

Adv Clin Exp Med. 2024 Feb 13. doi: 10.17219/acem/181146. Online ahead of print.


Background: Lipedema is characterized by the painful abnormal deposition of adipose tissue in the lower limbs and is often misdiagnosed as obesity. Considering the numerous bothersome physical symptoms of lipedema, women with lipedema may have greater disability and emotional problems than women with lifestyle-induced obesity.

Objectives: Our study aims to assess disability, anxiety and depression symptoms in women with lipedema compared to women with overweight/obesity.

Material and methods: Women with lipedema (n = 45, with a mean age of 41 years) and women who are overweight/obese (n = 43, with a mean age of 44.95 years) were asked to complete the following questionnaires: The World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule (WHO-DAS II), Beck's Depression Inventory - II (BDI-II), and The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS).

Results: Despite the higher BMI in the overweight/obesity group, the group with lipedema was more disabled in numerous domains of the WHO-DAS II questionnaire, including Life activities - domestic, work and school responsibilities and Participation in society When the influence of BMI was adjusted, a difference in the domain of Mobility was also present. The study groups did not differ in anxiety and depression symptoms.

Conclusions: We showed that behavioral impairment was the main factor affecting functioning in women with lipedema. Emotional symptoms did not differentiate the study groups. Leg volumes and adipose tissue pain intensity were associated with greater disability in women with lipedema, and should be considered in managing women with this condition and in future research estimating the effectiveness of lipedema treatment.

Keywords: adipose tissue; depression; disability; lipedema; obesity.