Stages of Lipedema

At this time, there are four recognized stages of Lipedema. As with many other diseases that use a staging structure to determine treatment, lipedema staging ranges from mild to extreme as follows:

  • Stage 1: The skin in the affected area is soft and smooth. Swelling increases during the day, but typically resolves with rest and elevation. There is at buildup around pelvis, buttocks, and hips.
  • Stage 2: The skin develops indentations and the subcutaneous tissue starts to feel more tough and nodular. Lipomas (fatty lumps between your skin and the underlying muscle layer) may appear. Large fatty deposits begin to form on the upper and lower legs and around the ankles. Eczema and skin infections (erysipelas) may also be present. While swelling increases during the day, as in stage 1, it is less affected by rest and elevation.
  • Stage 3: There is more hardening of connective tissues and the swelling becomes consistently present and does not resolve with rest and elevation. Large masses of skin and fat cause deformations in the thighs and knees.
  • Stage 4: Lymphedema occurs. This stage is also called Lipo-Lymphedema. Larger masses of skin and fat overhang and the swelling is consistently present. Fibrosclerosis, possibly elephantiasis. Legs can become stiff and lymph fluid can begin to leak from lymphatic vessels.

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Types of Lipedema

Medical professionals categorize lipedema into five different types based on where it is in the body. The type of lipedema is based on the distribution of the fat:

  • Type I: In the area of the buttocks and hips (saddle bag or jodhpur phenomenon)
  • Type II: Buttocks to knees, with formation of folds of fat around the inner side of the knees
  • Type III: Buttocks to ankles
  • Type IV: Arms
  • Type V: Legs

Some people have a combination of types, commonly Type II and IV or Type III and IV. Type V is very rare.


Marcia Byrd, M.D. and her team of experts care for patients throughout the United States and Canada.   If you suspect that you suffer from Lipedema, call (770) 587-1711 and schedule a consultation. Be the best you can be and live a full life – there is no reason to wait!