Lipoedema is a condition that affects 11% of women and often mistaken as obesity. It is an abnormal build-up of adipose tissue causing considerable tissue enlargement, swelling and pain and typically affects the thighs, buttocks, legs and sometimes the arms.

There is often confusion between Lipoedema and Lymphoedema but it can progress to Lipo-lymphoedema. It is affected by hormonal fluctuations and is associated with chronic venous and lymphatic insufficiency, early degenerative articular disease and obesity.

Lipoedema can be identified by:

  • Symmetrical accumulation of fatty tissue in legs usually from waist to ankles (feet are not affected)

  • Legs can be hypersensitive

  • Fat pads accumulate on upper outer thighs, inner thighs and around the knee

  • Often there is abnormal gait and joint pain

  • Hypermobility

  • Loss of concave spaces either side of the achilles tendon

  • Non-pitting edema and negative Stemmer’s sign on feet and hands

  • Altered skin temperature, texture and appearance

  • Restrictive diets have very little affect on lipoedemic fat

  • Bruising easily

Management can include:

  • Psychological and emotional support

  • Healthy eating and weight management

  • Physical activity, improving mobility

  • Skin care and protection

  • Compression therapy

  • Management of pain

  • MLD, CDT, lymphatic pumps

  • Surgery - liposuction

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