Mayo Clinic Staff Meetings: Lipedema of the Legs

Mayo Clinic Staff Meetings: Vascular Clinics. Lipedema of the Legs: A Syndrome Characterized by Fat Legs and Orthostatic Edema

Allen EV, Hines EA; 1940

Synopsis: This article describes the anatomical and physiological basis of lipedema.

Abstract: We wish to describe a clinical syndrome, lipedema of the legs, which is frequently very distressing. In our experience it affects solely women. The chief complaint is of swelling of the legs and feet which has been present for many years; in some instances, first noted in girlhood. On questioning, the physician may elicit that enlargement of the limbs has always been generalized and symmetrical. Usually, it is associated with gradual increase in body weight. There is never a history of recurrent episodes of acute cellulitis such as may occur in the course of lymphedema. The swelling below the knees is accentuated when patients are on their feet much and in warm weather. Aching distress in the legs in common. In many instances, there is a history of a similar condition in other members of the family. Ordinarily, such patients are very sensitive about the appearance of their limbs; they wear long skirts and stand behind chairs when in the presence of strangers. They avoid swimming. Evidence of neurosis is likely to be found. Occasionally, a patient feels that her large legs have “ruined her life”. Many are “ashamed” of their legs.

PubMed Link: No PubMed link available
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APA Citation: Allen, E. V., & Hines, E. A. (1940, March). Lipedema of the legs: a syndrome characterized by fat legs and orthostatic edema. In Proc Staff Mayo Clinic,15,184-187.

AMA Citation: Allen EV, Hines EA. Lipedema of the legs: a syndrome characterized by fat legs and orthostatic edema. In Proc Staff Mayo Clinic. 1940 March;15:184-187.

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Danette M Waligora says:

    Im sure I have this can someone help me on getting a diagnosis and what I can do to lessen the pain I’m in .

    • Catherine Seo says:

      Hello Danette,
      There is a provider directory under resources to help you find a provider who can diagnose and treat lipedema.
      I hope that helps.

  • Destiny Epps says:

    I am a registered nurse and I am quite sure I have this. I have not put on a bathing suit or shorts in 34 yrs. I need to live. I have 3 baby girls that I want to live life. What can I do? Will my insurance cover this?

    • Catherine Seo says:

      The best thing is to find a doctor in your area, there is a provider directory under “resources” on this website. We have had good results with a Ketogenic way of eating. There is a Facebook group that is very helpful.
      Reach out, ask questions, it’s a very supportive community.

  • Marilyn says:

    Drs are saying this is what she has. She has gained 34 lbs in 3 months. Im very concerned about her. He calves are the size of my thighs and her feet are huge. It doesnt seem like meds are helping.

  • Robin Robinson says:

    Do you perform the lymph sparing liposuction at the mayo clinic? Is this procedure covered by medicare or supplemental insurances?

    • Catherine Seo says:

      Hello Robin,
      You’ll need to contact the Mayo Clinic directly to ask these questions.
      We are part of the Northwell Health System in NY.
      Good luck,

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