First Dutch guidelines on lipedema using the international classification of functioning, disability and health

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Abstract

Introduction

Lipedema is a chronic, progressive condition that can result in considerable disability. In 2011, the Dutch Society of Dermatology and Venereology organized a task force to create guidelines on lipedema, using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health of the World Health Organization.

Guideline development

Clinical questions on significant issues in lipedema care were proposed, involving (1) making the diagnosis of lipedema; (2) clinimetric measurements for early detection and adequate follow-up; and (3) treatment. A systematic review of literature published up to June 2013 was conducted. Based on available evidence and experience of the task force, answers were formed and recommendations were stated. The guidelines define criteria to make a medical diagnosis of lipedema, a minimum data set of (repeated) clinical measurements that should be used to ensure early detection and an individually outlined follow-up plan, pillars on which conservative treatment should be based and recommendations on surgical treatment options.

Conclusions

Little consistent information concerning either diagnostics or therapy can be found in the literature. It is likely that lipedema is frequently misdiagnosed or wrongly diagnosed as only an aesthetic problem and therefore under- or mis-treated. Treatment is divided into conservative and chirurgic treatment. The only available technique to correct the abnormal adipose tissue is surgery.

Recommendations

To ensure early detection and an individually outlined follow-up, the committee advises the use of a minimum data set of (repeated) measurements of waist circumference, circumference of involved limbs, body mass index and scoring of the level of daily practice and psychosocial distress. Promotion of a healthy lifestyle with individually adjusted weight control measures, graded activity training programs, edema reduction, and other supportive measures are pillars of conservative therapy. Tumescent liposuction is the treatment of choice for patients with a suitable health profile and/or inadequate response to conservative and supportive measures.

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