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Composed: Jun 14, 2023

Author: Autumn

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Can You Lose Lipedema Fat? What Does The Research Say?

Fat cells are never lost

According to the available research, fat cells are never lost. To that end, is it ever truly accurate to say anyone has lost fat? It depends on what we're saying they've lost.

The body stores lipids (fat) in our fat cells. The cells themselves can expand to hold more lipids. The body can also create more fat cells to store more lipids. However, researchers believe that fat cells themselves are never lost.

Researchers have studied patients who lost fat, checking in with them two years after fat loss occurred, and found that while the fat cells shrunk in size, the number of fat cells in the body remained the same. This led researchers to the belief that fat cells are never lost. Perhaps two years is not long enough to be able to draw such a conclusion. But the conclusion that researchers have drawn is:

The reduction of body fat is not achieved through the loss of fat cells, but rather by the reduction of the lipids stored inside the fat cells.

So, when we say that a person "lost fat", perhaps it would be more accurate to say that their fat cells contain fewer lipids. They lost some of the lipids contained within the fat cells but not the cells themselves. It is not necessarily inaccurate to say someone "lost fat" since they did in fact lose lipids (fat) from within their fat cells.

"One theory is that size of the fat cells and the geloid layer of hyaluronic acid and water move the fat cells farther away from blood vessels and therefore slow the release of fat. The sheer number of fat cells in the gynoid area is much higher in women than men, just as the number of fat cells in the abdomen is higher in men than in women.

The fat cell load in the gynoid area in women compared to the hands, feet and trunk equates to more fat needed to lose. Inhibiting the release of fat molecules from fat cells can make fat cells very large. Further research into this area may help explain the origin of large fat cells in lipedema."

- ObesityAction.org

What does the research say?

There is no research that states lipedema fat cannot be lost. I'll repeat that, there is NO research that states that lipedema fat cannot be lost. There is not a single study that demonstrates that lipids contained within fat cells affected by lipedema cannot be lost.

It is accurate to say that fat cells are never truly "lost", as explained above in the section titled "Fat cells are never lost", but there is no research that suggests or demonstrates that lipids cannot be lost from fat cells impacted by lipedema. There is ample evidence to suggest that it is very difficult. However, there is no research that demonstrates it is not possible.

Anecdotal evidence

Anecdotal evidence is evidence based on an anecdote or a personal story. Anecdotal evidence can be problematic because it is difficult to use anecdotes to understand causation or to draw conclusions about what might happen to others.

Without a deeper understanding of what is happening at the cellular level, it can also be difficult to use anecdotes to demonstrate causation. Correlation can sometimes give us clues to potential causation. But we cannot use correlation and/or anecdotes to definitely state causation.

There is nothing that guarantees that one person's journey might be the same as someone else's. There is nothing that guarantees that one person's path to success will yield the same success in another person. And, in fact, it is unlikely that any one person's journey will look the same as anyone else's. Still, personal anecdotes do tell us what might be possible.

Since there is no research that demonstrates that lipids cannot be lost from fat cells affected by lipedema, we can conclude that individuals stating lipedema fat cannot be lost must be relying on anecdotal evidence.

There is anecdotal evidence that suggests that areas of the body affected by lipedema can be improved, greatly!

My personal story

Before and After Legs Affected by Lipedema

These are my legs. I improved the overall look, feel, and texture of the parts of my body affected by lipedema. As you can see, the fat pads under my knees have reduced visually. They also feel physically different to me. They used to be larger and more sensitive to touch. Now they are smaller, smoother, and not as sensitive or painful to touch.

I also lost a lot of the lumpy, bumpy texture in the area above the knee. I lost inches overall, which is obvious from the photos. But I also changed the texture of the areas of my body affected by lipedema. The pea-like texture of the fat cells changed.

It didn't go away. I still have lipedema. I still have pea-like textured cells under the skin. But there is less area where I can feel a pea-like texture under the skin.

Again, I'd just like to point out that no fat cells are ever lost, according to the research. What we mean when we say that someone has "lost fat" is that their fat cells contain fewer lipids.

When it comes to lipedema, it is very difficult to get fluid out of fat cells. My ankles used to swell, my feet used to swell, and I could feel that there was extra fluid in my legs. The skin was uncomfortably taut. Now it feels normal.

There is no pitting when I push on it, there is no pain or discomfort to touch, and the pea-like texture has reduced. My legs don't feel as heavy. It is easier for me to walk and, in particular, easier for me to walk longer distances. These are significant quality-of-life improvements for anyone affected by lipedema.

It's not your fault

I think sometimes when I suggest that perhaps it is possible to lose lipedema fat, what people hear is, "It's your fault that you haven't lost lipedema fat". I am absolutely not saying it is anyone's fault that they have lipedema, I am not saying it is anyone's fault if they have not successfully reduced the amount of lipids in their fat cells, and I am not saying that everyone CAN lose lipedema fat. I do not believe it is anyone's fault.

This is an underdiagnosed condition, for which the etiology is not known, and treatment plans are not yet well defined. Dr. Karen Herbst has made considerable strides in advancing the medical community's understanding of this condition. Even so, our understanding is in its infancy.

Many of us have been misdiagnosed, had delayed diagnoses, and/or been given poor advice on how to treat and live with our condition. How can we be blamed when even many medical professionals are unaware of what lipedema is? How can we be blamed when even those within the medical community who do know what lipedema is don't know how to treat it? How can we be blamed when the etiology of lipedema is not known?

No, I'm not saying this is anyone's fault.

What I am saying is that there is no research that demonstrates that lipedema fat cannot be lost. I am saying that perhaps, for some people, it may be possible. I am saying that I am not going to give in to what I have been told when there is not any evidence to support the claim.

What about dietary interventions?

Research demonstrates that lipedema does not respond well to bariatric surgery. Research and case studies are also demonstrating that low-carb, high-fat diets are leading to reduced pain, improved quality of life, and reduction of overall body weight for women affected by lipedema.

Researchers are careful to caution that randomized clinical trials are needed. Still, this is promising and is a more positive result than received with "eat less, move more" or bariatric surgery.

It is promising that researchers are beginning to try to understand the etiology of this condition and what dietary interventions might be helpful. It is equally promising to see that some of the interventions being used by researchers are providing positive outcomes for patients. And it is exciting to see recognition from the medical community that this condition is very real.

I have written about the dietary interventions I used while improving the areas of my body affected by lipedema. My experience aligns with what researchers are finding to yield success for other patients.