While you may be embarrassed by cellulite on your legs, it's actually a very common and nothing to be ashamed about. Dr. Dendy Engelman says that about 93% of women have it. However, if you've noticed that you've been gaining weight or more cellulite in your legs, you may want to talk with your doctor. You could have a disorder called lipedema.
What is Lipedema?
Lipedema can cause your legs to become larger because of irregular fat cell deposits. Lipedema is often missed in obese patients, or it may be mistaken for lymphedema, a disorder which causes swelling because of blockages in the lymphatic system.
Lipedema can go unnoticed for a long time since it may just look like weight gain and cellulite. However, it usually gets worse over time. Besides cosmetic concerns, it can cause you to bruise easily and may cause discomfort.
Researchers aren't quite sure what causes lipedema. However, some people do have a genetic predisposition, so if other family members present similar symptoms, then you should get checked out by your doctor. Researchers believe that stressful or traumatic events can heighten your risk of developing the condition. Lastly, researchers believe that changes in hormones during puberty, menopause, pregnancy, or surgery (e.g., hysterectomy) can sometimes trigger this condition.
How Can You Treat it?
Unfortunately, you can't really treat the condition with diet and exercise. One prevalent myth is that people can spot reduce areas of fat with specific exercises (e.g., lunges, squats, etc.), but the fact is that every person has his or her own natural areas of where fat is deposited. Physical therapy can definitely help, but it's not a cure-all. A physical therapist can set you up with compression garments and teach you rebound exercises—done on a trampoline—but you may still have extra fat and cellulite.
One great way to treat the problem is with liposuction.
How Can Liposuction Help?
While the lipedema may not completely go away, liposuction can greatly reduce the appearance of fat tissues and cellulite. If your lipedema causes pain and disrupts your mobility, then a liposuction surgery could help you resolve your symptoms and return to an active lifestyle.
There are different kinds of liposuction methods that you can consider. For instance, you could undergo a tumescent technique. During tumescent liposuction, your doctor will inject large volumes of anesthetic and epinephrine into fat cells. The epinephrine will shrink capillaries, and the anesthetic will harden the fat cells, making them easier to remove. The tumescent technique is popular because it is very safe and the results are long-lasting.
If you are in good shape physically, a technique that is ideal is jet-assisted liposuction. Instead of the fat cells being removed manually after the injection of tumescent fluids, a doctor will use a pressurized stream of saline to dislodge fat cells. Jet-assisted liposuction is great because it gives your skin a contoured look and the procedure is relatively gentle.
Talk with your doctor for more information on how to treat your lipedema.