Diagnosing Lipedema

Currently, the best way to diagnose lipedema is performing manual inspection by a trained physician in conjunction with patient history. Upon palpation of the fat the healthcare professional may feel texture to the fat, such as 'grains of sand or rice', tiny pebbles or pea-like nodules and/or large strands of nodules. Other physical characteristics may be based on the 1940 Wold criteria.


Patient History and Physical Exam

FUTURE Diagnostic tools

The Lipedema Foundation aims to put data behind the diagnosis and is supporting many endeavours to definitely diagnose liepdema.



There's an App for that!

  • App that compares images of one's legs to a database of diagnosed legs

  • Leg shape assessment, along the lines of the "Like a Glove" brand jeans fitter to determine "big legs"

Soft Tissue Imaging

  • MRI

  • CT

  • Ultrasound

  • Airport scanners (no really, some of us light up as we walk through them!)

Lymph Vessel Imaging


  • Lymphoscintigraphy - Currently used to rule out lymphedema

  • SPY Elite

Imaging of Fat Content

  • DEXA (1, 2)

Changes in Biochemical / Bio-mechanical Properties

  • Na-MRI

Assessing blood capillary fragility

  • Angiosterometer

Water Volume Measurements

  • Streeten Test


References (in development)


1 Dietzel R, Reisshauer A, Jahr S, Calafiore D, Armbrecht G., Body Composition in lipoedema of the legs using dual-energy X-ray absorptiomety: a case-control study. Brit J Derm. 173: 594–596; 2015

2  “Fat Distribution and Glucose Metabolism in Individuals with and without Williams Syndrome” (NCT01864304)