What is Lipoedema?

This is another medical condition which, although has very similar properties to lymphoedema, is actually an inflammatory disease of the adipose (fat) tissues.  It almost exclusively affects women (or those assigned female at birth) and, although there are a number of cases where it has been present in males too, it may manifest differently.  It is characterised by disproportionately heavy hips, thighs and legs which, in later stages of the disease, stops at the ankle (like a cuff) leaving the feet unaffected.   It is a hereditary condition associated with reproductive hormones and especially oestrogen.   The legs can be cold, bruise easily, tender to touch, feel very heavy and painful and there can be small bumps under the skin.

Sadly, it is a misunderstood disease with people being diagnosed as obese or with lymphoedema and, as the condition can start at puberty, there can be a lot of stigma and shame for children who are repeatedly told that there are "just fat" and "need to exercise more". 

There are different stages and types of lipoedema :

TYPE 1 - the fat sits  between your navel and hips
TYPE 2 - the fat sits between your pelvis and knees
TYPE 3 - the fat sits between your pelvis and ankles
TYPE 4 - the fat sits between your shoulders and wrists
TYPE 5 - the fat sits between your knees and ankles

STAGE 1 - Skin appears normal but there are small bumps under the skin and you can have pain and bruising
STAGE 2 - Skin appears uneven and dimpled (like cellulite)
STAGE 3 - Skin and fat develops into larger folds distorting the shape of the leg
STAGE 4 - Lymphoedema can develop alongside the lipoedema

In Stage 4 the pressure from the fat cells damages delicate lymphatic vessels allowing lymph to leak into the surrounding connective tissue.

I have got masses of information which I can give you so, if this sounds familiar, please get in touch and we can have a chat and/or assessment and I can hopefully give you some assistance towards getting a proper diagnosis for the condition along with lots of self-help ideas and resources to follow up.  It has a huge impact on quality of life, everyday tasks and relationships as well as putting barriers in the way for you in the working and social environments.  Although a formal diagnosis does not fix this it can open doors to resources which could help.