Why Are My Legs So Fat? You May Actually Have Lipedema!
Written by Crystal Willis
Do you feel embarrassed by your “thunder thighs” or “cankles”? You’re not alone. But, it might be more than just a need to lose a few pounds. Answer some of the questions below to determine if you might be suffering from a medical condition called Lipedema that affects approximately 11% of the female population.
- Do you frequently experience pain in one or both legs that feels achy, pressing, pulling, hot, or restless?
- Do you have a larger, disproportionate bottom half and smaller waist, or pear shape?
- Do you bruise very easily?
- Do you ever experience a deep, throbbing pain down your chin for seemingly no reason?
- Does it hurt (like a painful stub of the toe) if someone leans an elbow into your leg, presses with their fingers, or you lightly bump into something?
- Do your legs or ankles seem to get more fatigued and swell up toward the later part of the evening?
- Do you try to lose weight, but it never seems to really come off your legs or ankles, or change the proportions, no matter how hard you work? Have doctors told you over and over you need to lose weight when they examine your legs?
- Does the appearance of the fat and skin on your legs appear lumpy, excessively dry, or slightly bumpy (like beans in a bag) when you roll your fingers over it?
- Do your feet seem very cold all the time or especially at night?
- Have you noticed other women in your family who appeared to have larger legs and struggle with their mobility?
- Has the doctor ever told you that your Vitamin D is low?
- Do you seem to have a low immune system, or sinus problems?
- Have you struggled with depression or anxiety about the appearance of your legs or arms, and felt the need to hide them?
- Do you have a fatty area or protrusion of fat that is forming on the inside of your knees, above the knee, just above the ankle, or on the back of your calves?
- Are those disproportionate fatty areas symmetrical (on both sides?)
JUNE is Lipedema Awareness month! If you answered YES to several of these questions, I recommend you discuss this with your doctor. My hope is that someone like me will be able to find some answers as to why they experience the painful fat, swelling, or disproportion in their legs. Lipedema is a serious and very common fat disorder, despite the fact that it is rarely diagnosed or recognized by physicians.
What is lipedema?
Lipedema is a disorder of adipose tissue distinguished by five characteristics:
1) it can be inherited;
2) it occurs almost exclusively in women;
3) it can occur in women of all sizes, from the seriously underweight to the morbidly obese;
4) it involves the excess deposit and expansion of fat cells in an unusual and particular pattern – bilateral, symmetrical and usually from the waist to a distinct line just above the ankles; and
5) unlike the “normal” fat of obesity, lipedemic fat cannot be lost through diet and exercise.
Lipedema shows up primarily as disproportionately large, column-like legs. As lipedema progresses, patients become increasingly heavy in the lower body, or can affect the arms. The additional, expanding fat cells interfere with the pathways of lymphatic vessels, and patients can develop secondary lymphedema, a condition known as lipo-lymphedema. Lipedemic fat can be very painful, and if not kept in check through a healthy lifestyle the condition can worsen, and patients can become progressively less mobile.
Awareness regarding Lipedema is increasing, and many people are finding relief with conservative therapies like compression garments and manual lymph drainage. Some are even having longer term success in stopping the progression of their Lipedema by undergoing lymph-sparing tumescent or WAL liposuction, like I have (read my update here). Look for a doctor in your area who specializes in lymphedema and they should be able to recognize the condition, and if diagnosed, connect you to some valuable resources.
Visit some of these other sites to get more information and speak with your doctor right away! This is one condition that is only helped by being proactive!
After you read this article, click the image below to check out my new e-book set for release on July 17, 2017!
To Order Now, visit: bit.ly/ilovemylegs
10 thoughts on “Why are my legs so fat? You might actually have Lipedema!”
Reblogged this on My Lymph Node Transplant and commented:
I am sharing this as it is a great check list to see if you may have Lipedema…. some people have a combination of Lymphedema and Lipedema… Or one or the other… The difference is Lymphedema is a retained fluid in the tissues where as Lipedema is a disorder of the fat tissue in the body.. Lipedema can also lead to lymphedema or visa versa due to the impact on the normal function of the Lymphatics. This article also has some great links to further information… Thanks Crystal for this post…
Thank you so much for sharing it!! Everything we can do to increase awareness can help one more woman discover it and be proactive.
Tendremos mas guias de Clash of Clans, trucos y tips del juego.
I am 63 years old and just realized today that I have this condition. I was always teased about my fat legs when I was younger, and now I am embarrased to wear short anything and have been my entire afult life since having children.
I noticed that when I have leg massages during pedicures that my legs hurt in certain places. Now I know why. I have stage one thank goodness. I do exercise and loos wright in my legs but the shape is still the same. I have the endentations, bruise easily … all the signs and symptoms. I take a fluid pill every day to help. Now I am going to eliminate a few things from my diet.
I am glad to know I dont have just “fat” legs. I feel better already!
Hi Pam, I am a similar age to you and like you I have endured this problem since puberty and only recently realised what it was. I mentioned it to my GP who said I must mean lymphodema and should speak to my Haematologist. I don’t know if he is the type of specialist I need but I am go to print out some information and take it to her and see what she advises.
I am just after realizing that I have this condition so thank you so so much for sharing this – I am very young finding this out so I am a bit scared really but I don’t know how to tell my mam or anything so please help, I’m going away in holidays next week so I don’t want to tell her just now cause yeah but I will after and then she will know why I have pains and big legs pokeing through my shorts!! But pleassssse help me🙈😿💞
Oh I forgot to ask…
What is lipedema month??
Hello everyone! I am a 21 year old woman from Greece and I am recently in the process of medical examinations so I can get a diagnosis on lipedema (which truly is very difficult!). I stambled upon this condition three months ago, anf having suffered from collumn like legs since the age of 7 something just ticked in me. At first I brushed it off as just another condition someone may read about on google, but the thought never left my mind and I continually found myself going back to search on the matter, and the more I studied about it, the more sure I became that this is what I suffer from. What makes me so strongly believe that I have lipedema stage I is that even though I once was overweight and lost 15 kg, my legs changed only slightly while their column thick shape remained. I have also been leading a very healthy lifestyle for the past 5 years, never drinking or smocking, eating healthy and exercising on a daily basis 5 days a week. And nothing happened. While someone could distinguish abs on my abdomen, my bottom half looked overweight and extremely disporpotional. I visited a supposedly great docto last week with my mother explaining my current state and way of life to him while also telling him my thoughts on it being lipedema. He first examined me for lymphedema (while I had already told that this was not the case cause I had already been examined about that in the past). Then I heard something I really didn;t want to hear : yeah…well… it could be lipedema as you insist, but I think that is just the way your body looks, no matter how unatural tha may seem to you. We will run some test to make sure that there’s nothing else going on (I also assured him that I run similar test no too long ago and came back negative), and then if the test show nothing wrong, then we can discuss wether it is lipedema or just your body type.
I became SO furstrated. Guys like him are are the reason I rarely put my trust in doctors anymore. He didn;t even seem to care, and the fact is I ‘ve went trhough to much bulling, to much self disaprovement and disapointment on my way of life not paying back, to just hear another doctor tell in my face to JUST lose weight. I’ve felt a little down since then and I sometimes feel like I will never get a diagnosis or a ‘cure’, if you may, considering my legs.
Has anyone else gone through the same emotional distress?
(Sorry for my English)
I think I have this, is a mild form, if not, then I don’t know. All the women in my family get to inherit their fat legs when they reach puberty. You go from being a lean little sprite into a permanently chubby cherub. I reached puberty at age 12 and within a year I looked like Nikki Minage, only that wasn’t cool in 1992. I was body shamed and made fun of by boys. I had C-cup breasts, and a big round butt, but instead of boys wanting to date me, they called me beached whale and bubble butt. I have always been active. Lots of walking, cycling, roller blading and ice skating. I didn’t do super strenuous sports because I would get winded so easily. I’ve managed to loose a lot of weight twice in my life, once when I was 24 and now at 39. When I was 25 I weighed 117, but yet on my wedding day I still had these chunky little legs. Ugh! I felt so WTF. I also still had, what I call “arm bags” despite doing weights. I think I also have mild EDS because I’m double jointed in my elbows and knees and in general very flexible. C-cup, and very flexible, it took years to find a man who finally appreciated that. When my husband told me when we were dating that I had a body made for sex, I had never heard anyone tell me that. He wasn’t being lewd, he just kinda said it as a honest statement. Anyway, having a baby added new fat struggles, fat that I can’t even starve or cardio or weightlifting away, yet. Running had always been out of my reach due to stamina issues, and running with legs that feel like lead. Really, if you watch me walk, ice skate, or run it looks like I’m made of lead. What is that? But I decided to push through the “I think my heart is about to go into fibulations” and see if I could actually run some where. I built up to 3 miles, and could see my thighs slimming a bit, I didn’t like loosing that curve up there. But my calves remain fat, plus I sprained my knee about 2 months later. IT was an experiment to see if running would take the fat off my legs. Not really. I still have a bubble butt. I suppose it’s time to accept it, and say F you to those who look at me and assume I’m a lazy slob who eats garbage and doesn’t ever lift. It’s so annoying the assumptions we make based on what we see. I buy into it myself. Now in this digital age, I’m seeing fitness instructors of all body types. What prompted my search today was an aerobics instructor who appeared to have fat legs. My first thought is that she’s out of shape and how will this work out help me? Then I have to consider what I just thought and work through it. I’ve worked with people who are literally huge from the waste down, like there is obviously something else happening. I’ve seen people laugh at them too, well one in, it was an African American man, he needed a walker because his legs and butt where so big. But these three people I knew, looked like they were wearing huge hockey pants. One had had gastric bi-pass and still had these very large uncomfortable legs. I think in my case it’s genetic, hormonal, and we just have fat legs, but it’s this fat that is reluctant to ever go away, and it appears at puberty, and again with pregnancy. I’m waiting for my knee to heal so I can continue my running experiment. Also, when I run, I don’t give a F—- what I look like, I feel so free and strong and it’s about appreciating my body for doing that. I don’t care that my legs are fat when I run 3 miles in them. It’s hard to explain, and not being able to run because of my knee takes me right back to that dark place of body hate. I’ve tried weight lifting, I might have to get more into that if I’m injured for the long term. People get really into it and feel so empowered. It’s never really caught on for me, it’s kinda repetitive and boring. Running really did it for me once I was able to do it for more than 30 seconds. But if that instructor on Fab Fit Fun has fat legs, what hope do I have? And why should I feel bad about my legs? Why should I buy into the conditioning that has taken place since I was born. Images of what the media says is “in shape” strong, desirable. That’s like 1 body type! And it changes, big eyebrows in the late 80’s then that goes out and OMG it’s back again, eyebrows on fleek y’all! I’m glad to see more body types being represented, I love the olympics for that. The Jamaican woman runner with beautiful glorious thighs setting the fastest time, the Canadian diver with thunder thighs and a bubble butt in a thonged out suit, the aerobics instructor with undefined legs who can out squat you, I just wish it this would have happened when I was younger. I dated so many messed up guys. Guys with a messed up head from looking at too much porn. Guys with Cathy Ireland posters while we made out in there room. I looked nothing like their “dream babe” poster. I also had a bad relationship with my dad. He never really accepted me, and was always critical of my grades and my lack of femininity, this set me up for an unhealthy self image and unhealthy relationships with guys. It felt really normal for guys to not accept me either. Ladies we need to come together and push back against a judgmental world that tells us to hide our legs or our entire being away if we don’t fit today’s “trending norm”. It’s a personal issue I struggle with. I just want to be free.
Thanks for posting your story, and thanks for letting me tell my story.