Complications and Consequences of Lipoedema

Lipoedema is a long-term (chronic) condition has no known cure. Early and holistic treatment can prevent lipoedema from progressing. But complications such as being overweight, mental distress, or joint problems are common.

Complications and Consequences of Lipoedema

Many lipoedema patients report that it took them a long time to get their diagnosis and start an appropriate and holistic treatment plan. The condition is often misdiagnosed or mistaken for obesity or lymphoedema

Although early and holistic treatment can prevent lipoedema from progressing, many lipoedema patients have to manage further complications.


Many lipoedema patients are overweight. This can increase your risk of other medical conditions e.g. diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and  lymphoedema. Being overweight can add additional stress to the lymphatic system, putting pressure onto lymph nodes and vessels. Gaining weight can also worsen your lipoedema.

You can learn more about the differences between obesity and lipoedema here.

Limited social life

Shape disproportions, dissatisfaction with your own body, and painful sensations can make it difficult to participate in daily life. However, reducing your social activities is a vicious circle that may lead to your symptoms becoming worse. Meeting friends, being active outside, joining a fitness class will be beneficial in the long-term to support your overall well-being.

Mental distress

Anxiety and depression are not only common in patients with lipoedema – they are common in people with chronic medical conditions. Some patients may feel that their therapy is a significant burden, at times. However, mental distress can worsen your lipoedema symptoms, especially their perception of pain. Depression and stress disorders are associated with higher pain intensity. Eating disorders can also be common among lipoedema patients. Therefore, you should not be afraid to seek psychological support. There are different options, such as joining a peer group, One to One dialogue with a therapist, or self-help tools.

Learn more about psychosocial support with lipoedema

Joint problems

Overweight and painful sensations can make it hard to stay active and exercise regularly. This can increase your risk of joint problems, such as osteoarthritis of your knees or hips. Physiotherapy and general movement  can help you maintain a more stable weight, improve your muscles strength and flexibility, and prevent or improve joint problems.

Failed diets

A typical sign of lipoedema is the shape disproportion between your upper and lower body. You may find it difficult to accept your body as it does not fit your ideal. Also, a narrow waist and larger thighs and hips can make it hard to buy clothes. Many with lipoedema  try different diets to lose weight. However, you should avoid any diets – most of them aim to lose weight in a short time and fail in the end. This can even result in a higher weight than before, called the "yo-yo effect." Instead of dieting, balanced nutrition and regular exercise are more effective in supporting a stable and healthy weight.

Learn more about the different elements of lipoedema treatment

Up next

How to Prevent Lipoedema Progression

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