Lipoedema is a condition that makes you accumulate fat below waist, often giving you hips, buttocks and legs that are out of proportion with your upper body. It can also affect your arms.
78% of Lipoedema sufferers questioned in Lipoedema UK Big Survey 2014 stated that they developed symptoms between the ages of 18-25 but only 7% received a diagnosis at that time. Many people take decades to realise that they have Lipoedema and are constantly dismissed by the medical profession over the years and told that the excess fat “is their own fault”.
It is believed that 11% of the female population may suffer from some degree of Lipoedema.
One of the most frustrating things about lipoedema is that the vast majority of doctors and nurses aren’t trained to recognize lipoedema, and so many women go their whole lives without obtaining a diagnosis.
Do you suffer from the following?
- Excess weight on your legs
- Heaviness and discomfort of the legs
- Your upper body and lower body are completely different sizes making clothes shopping very difficult
- You have a small waist, but large hips and thighs
- Your excess weight does not include your feet or hands
- You can lose weight from your upper body but not your lower
- Your lower body bruises easily
- Some members of your family are or were a similar shape
The following treatments are recommended to help manage lipoedema and preventing new problems such as Lymphoedema and varicose veins developing.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)
MLD is a specific type of gentle massage that is used to stimulate lymphatic flow thus helping reduce oedema (fluid build up). It is also useful to reduce plain and discomfort, it is most effective when combined with other treatments such as compression bandaging and/or compression garments. It is performed by specially trained therapists and it is essential that qualifications are checked before embarking on a course of treatment. Many women say it helps to reduce Lipoedema pain. It is best used in conjunction with compression hosiery.
Specially made support socks, stockings, tights or garments. Wearing compression hosiery is the single most effective way of slowing down or preventing worsening symptoms. Compression garments encourage the flow of blood and lymph fluid within the lymphatic system which helps prevent fluid retention/oedema in the tissues and onset of Lymphoedema. In addition fluid within the tissues is encouraged to move towards the root of the limb, where it can be drained away more easily. Therefore wearing compression garments will hopefully stop the progression of Lipoedema into Lipo-lymphoedema.
Compression therapy may also reduce the level of pain and discomfort often experienced in the limbs by supporting soft tissues and painful knee joints. In addition, they provide support to the loose connective tissues and help improve appearance, streamline and redefine the shape of the limbs.
What do I do if I think I have lipoedema?
Many women live with lipoedema all their lives and lead full and active lives, and evidence is gathering of diet and exercise programmes that can help control and reduce symptoms. Reducing the number of calories you consume will not reduce areas affected by lipoedema although it will reduce areas where you have normal fat, eating a very low calorie diet is not advised at any time.
Keeping fit is essential and choosing low impact exercises such as swimming or cycling will tone and strengthen muscles without putting excess pressure on your knees and legs.
Please contact us for help and further advice.
Living with lipoedema can be challenging, especially as it is so poorly understood by most health professionals and often misguided as obesity. This denies the sufferer access to expert services and often leads to psychological problems when it is inferred that the lipoedema is the result of poor self-control and over-eating. Difficulty in finding clothes that fit and poor self-image often lead to a lack of social confidence.