Lipoedema is a chronic condition characterised by a painful and abnormal accumulation of fat cells in the hips, thighs, buttocks, legs and sometimes arms. The legs may become swollen, bruise easily, feel tender and uncomfortable.
Sufferers of early stage Lipoedema often have column-shaped legs and as the conditions worsens the fat continues to build up and the lower half of their body becomes heavier. The lipoedemic fat can also build up in the arms. The fat cannot be exercised or dieted away. Many patients eat well and exercise yet continue to develop fat on their lipoedemic areas.
The condition almost exclusively affects women and it is estimated that 1 in 10 women suffer with Lipoedema. The most common time of onset of Lipoedema is during puberty or pregnancy, which leads experts to believe that the condition may occur due to changes in hormones either medication related or during menopause.
The condition is poorly understood and often dismissed as obesity. If not diagnosed and managed properly Lipoedema can result in further complications including reduced mobility, lymphedema due to scarring of the lymphatics due to the inflammatory nature of the lipoedema tissue; as well as depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia or eating disorders.
Sufferers can experience emotional and psychological damage due to receiving a lack of diagnosis and support from medical practitioners and family.
There are a range of conservative management treatment options available to sufferers, as well as a surgical solution. To find out more about treatment options click here.