What is lipoedema?

01 June 2017

Lipoedema is a medical condition where the individual may appear to be simply obese and/or to have extremely swollen legs and swollen abdomen. The condition is an uneven distribution of fat cells in, generally, in the legs or abdomen. 

Below are 10 facts about lipoedema:

  • Lipoedema is a chronic and progressive disorder of the adipose (fat) tissue. It occurs most commonly in the lower limbs but can also affect arms and other areas of the body. Patients are disproportionate with column like legs that are not in keeping with the rest of their body.
  • Sufferers can be of any size or weight and it is not necessarily associated with being overweight.
  • Lipoedema fat is often very sensitive or painful, bruises easily and causes difficulty in mobilising. Limbs become distorted with abnormal fat pads, particularly around the hips, knees and ankles.
  • It typically starts at puberty and worsens with time. Significant exacerbation occurs with hormonal changes such as pregnancy and menopause.
  • Lipoedema tends to run in families and it is common to have one or more female members of the family affected.
  • Estimates of the incidence of lipoedema vary widely but are often quoted as being 11% of the post-puberty female population. The condition is poorly recognised and the true incidence is likely to be much higher than this.
  • The fat is diet and exercise resistant. Patients embarking on a diet will often loose weight from their core body but not their limbs. This makes the lipoedema even more obvious.
  • It occurs almost exclusively in women, although there are several cases of men with the condition.
  • Lipoedema patients have a high incidence of anxiety, depression and eating disorders as a result of the condition.
  • Liposuction is the only treatment that will improve the appearance of the limbs and remove the abnormal fat pads.

If you are concerned you might have Lipoedema, please call to book a consultation with Miss Anne Dancey.  

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