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Cellulite or lipedema? What is the difference?

Dimpling of the skin. Many women are affected by this. As a rule, it is cellulite, also known as “orange peel skin”. More rarely, however, it can also be lipedema, a fat distribution disorder. But what is the difference between cellulite and lipedema?

What is cellulite and how does it develop?

The majority of all “fellow sufferers” who are affected by cellulite sooner or later in their lives are female. Do dimples form on your thighs when you pinch your skin together? Or are they visible even when relaxed? This is a pretty sure sign of incipient or already advanced cellulite. But you are not the only one: Over 80% of women carry this predisposition.


The causes often lie in genetic predisposition, which can have a direct influence on the structure of the connective tissue and also on fat distribution. Female hormones also influence the tissue. Unlike the net-like arrangement in men, the collagen fibers in women are parallel to each other and are significantly more elastic. As a result, fat cells penetrate the connective tissue more easily and the dimples that are often considered unsightly develop.


Good to know: Although cellulite is a blemish for many women, it does not cause any pain. Therefore, it is not a disease, but a completely normal and natural skin phenomenon.

How can I recognize lipedema?

Much rarer than cellulite, but also an almost exclusively female phenomenon, is lipedema. In this case, visible changes in the tissue also occur, but (depending on the stage) in a much more pronounced form and accompanied by a wide variety of symptoms such as:


– Pressure pain

– sensation of cold

– frequent formation of bruises

– pathological proliferation of fat cells


The causes are not yet fully understood, but hormonal changes and genetic predisposition play an accompanying role. Excess weight, lack of exercise or poor nutrition are not causes of lipedema, as is the case with cellulite, but they can have a negative influence on the course of the disease.


Lipedema patients sometimes experience severe impairments in their daily lives – from restricted movement to pain and psychological stress.

A comparison of the stages of cellulite and lipedema

Lipedema Cellulite 
Stage 1:

Thickened subcutaneous fat tissue leads to sports-resistant fat accumulation in various areas of the body

Stage 1:

Slight dimples form when the skin is pinched; in a relaxed state, the skin is smooth

Stage 2:

Fat pads appear over a large area and lead to outwardly thickened “fat noodles”, pressure pains, etc.

Stage 2:

Inward dimples can be seen in both relaxed and tense states. There may be an increase in volume of the fatty tissue.

Stage 3:

The abnormal fatty tissue multiplies uncontrollably, is severely hardened. Fat aprons cause inflammatory chafing, movements are severely limited.

Stage 3:

In addition to severe dimpling and a tendency for increased fatty tissue, palpable indurations develop under the skin.

What treatments are available for cellulite and lipedema?

There are therapies and measures for both cellulite and lipedema to relieve you in everyday life or to reduce the appearance. Thus, it is particularly important to pay attention to a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Other treatments to improve cellulite can include


– regular massages

– Alternating showers

– Professional cupping

– Therapies such as mesotherapy, ultrasound or radiofrequency therapy


In addition, manual lymphatic drainage and compression garments play a predominant role in conservative lipedema treatment. However, these methods do not achieve lasting success. In contrast, liposuction for lipedema (liposuction) can help. In this surgical procedure, the diseased fat cells are permanently removed and further spreading is thus prevented.

Diagnosis by the lipedema experts

You are not sure whether you suffer from lipedema? Then our lipedema self-test will definitely help you. For a professional diagnosis by our specialists and lipedema experts, we would be happy to offer you an appointment for our consultation hours.


Make your appointment online now

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