skip to Main Content

LIPOEDEMA

Lipoedema is a condition where excess fat collects below the waist (and sometimes on upper arms) but not at the feet. The classic shape of lipoedema sufferers is a relatively small top half with a disproportionately large pear shaped lower half and thick heavy legs tapering to normal feet. The fatty areas which are symmetrical on both legs are tender and often painful.

Although a handful of men are affected, lipoedema almost exclusively affects women, usually after puberty, pregnancy or some other event involving the reproductive hormones. Men with lipoedema invariably have liver disease which affects the way they metabolise oestrogen. It runs in families and research is being done on this.

As well as the psychological stress of the disfigurement, sufferers report that the widespread ignorance of the medical profession is profoundly depressing. Very often patients are told to diet and exercise but overeating is not the cause and many women with lipoedema find it more acceptable to be fat rather than thin because their disproportionate shape is not so obvious. Unfortunately the increase in weight can cause joint problems leading to a reduction in mobility and pain occurring in the affected limbs.  

If the swelling becomes severe, the condition can cause damage to the body’s lymphatic system resulting in lymphoedema. Until this point the conditions are quite separate.

Sadly, there is little conventional help for lipoedema. The standard treatment for lymphoedema has little impact on lipoedema but exercise is essential to enhance any ‘sluggish’ lymph drainage which likely co-exists. Water aerobics is an ideal form of exercise as the water supports the joints whilst allowing resistance to occur which will increase the heart rate.

St. George’s Hospital Medical School in London has been carrying out research on the condition and it is hoped that the study will help to bring further awareness of lipoedema and help individuals with the condition to cope better both physically and psychologically with its effects

Back To Top