Clinical signs of lipoedema
The diagnosis of lipoedema can be established by different health professionals (angiologists, general practitioners, plastic surgeons…). This professional will rely on a set of clinical signs specific to lipoedema, by questioning and by physical examination.
First, the doctor will ask you a series of questions to learn more about the appearance of the lipoedema, your history and your perception of it; these are the symptoms of lipoedema
Then he will proceed with the clinical examination.
During the physical examination, the first thing that will be looked at is your body’s visual appearance. People suffering from lipoedema have a disproportion of the lower or upper limbs in relation to the rest of the body, especially the waist which will remain thin compared to the limbs. In the lower limbs, joints such as knees and ankles disappear; in the upper limbs, elbows and wrists are not very marked and filled with fat. Nevertheless, the feet and hands are not affected and have a completely normal appearance. On a global view of the body, the lower limbs look like “poles”. A key sign of lipoedema is the symmetrical and bilateral affection observed on the patient’s body.
The professional will then study the vascular system, he will be able to note by eye the appearance of varicosities, a sign of vascular fragility, ideally assisted by an echo-doppler of the affected areas in order to have a complete visual of the possible vascular attacks. He will be able to observe or question you about the appearance of bruises or spontaneous hematomas on the limbs. By touching the affected areas, he will be able to feel the fatty deposits, but also the appearance of the skin, which changes with the different stages of the disease. He will be able to check the flexibility of the joints because lipoedema in the advanced stages sometimes leads to a loss of mobility. He will also test for pain when pressure is applied to the upper and lower limbs.
All of these clinical signs represent a set of indications that support the diagnosis of lipoedema disease and also allow the stage and type of the disease to be determined.