Could I have lipoedema?

Lipoedema is a medical, long-term, chronic condition that is the accumulation of abnormal fat (adipose tissue) and is unrelated to diet. It particularly affects the lower limbs, however, it can also impact the arms. It appears to affect women only and at present has no known cure. There has been an increase in awareness about lipoedema and some women who struggle with their weight/body shape may be wondering if they could be affected by this condition.

Lipoedema sufferers often relate to the following:

  • Excess weight on the legs, particularly thighs/buttocks/hips, and sometimes the arms
  • Pain and/or discomfort in the skin/tissues of the legs and/or arms (if affected)
  • Shape disproportion, that is a narrower waist with larger hips and thighs - making buying clothes a real problem
  • No obvious change in the feet and/or hands - they appear normal
  • Losing weight and exercising appears to make no real difference to the size of the legs/arms
  • Affected areas tend to bruise more easily for no apparent reason
  • Other (female) members of the family may also suffer from similar problems

What should I do if I suspect I have lipoedema?

Over the coming months, LymphConnect will be exploring different aspects of lipoedema and its management, so keep checking the site for information. However, obtaining a diagnosis, and realising that the adipose tissue that causes lipoedema is ‘not your fault’, can be the first step in helping keep your lipoedema under control.  Booking an appointment with your GP and/or healthcare professional to discuss your symptoms, and the impact they are having on your life, should be the first step. Some GPs may not be aware of lipoedema, therefore we recommend you take along information about the condition. Lipoedema UK (www.lipoedema.co.uk) is a charitable organisation founded by women with lipoedema, and a good resource of information. They collaborated with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and put together a course to help GPs better understand lipoedema, and how to help those diagnosed with the condition. 

By initiating and participating in a supported self-management programme, sometimes with the help of your local lymphoedema clinic (your GP may refer you to a lymphoedema clinic), you will hopefully start to feel much more confident and in control of the situation, and importantly, prevent the condition progressing further.

We look forward to helping you with your onward journey by providing educational information - look out for more information about lipoedema on the LymphConnect platform, coming soon. You may also find it helpful to gain support and advice from others who are living with lipoedema, by sharing experiences in the LymphConnect forum. LymphConnect is free to join! Click here for more information. 

Listen to Lucinda’s story as she shares her experiences of in managing her lymphoedema and lipoedema.

Your support - register here to share your lymphoedema experiences, stories and top tips.