Have you ever felt that losing weight is impossible? Lipoedema is a shockingly common condition that affects women across the world and prevents them from losing weight – and yet it is still widely under-recognised and misdiagnosed. June is lipoedema awareness month, so we thought we’d do our bit to increase awareness with 8 must-know facts.
1. It looks like obesity – but isn’t
Lipoedema can often be mistaken for obesity because it causes the legs and arms to take on a thick, column-shaped appearance. However, this chronic condition is not caused by lack of self-control or laziness and it is not your fault. Sufferers usually find that they are unable to lose weight from their legs and bottom, no matter how hard they try.
2. Lipoedema is commonly misdiagnosed as lymphoedema
Lymphoedema is a condition that causes uncomfortable swelling of limbs, and a condition that lipoedema sufferers are commonly misdiagnosed with. It is possible to have both conditions, however, it’s crucial to get an accurate diagnosis as lymphoedema treatments won’t help with lipoedema symptoms.
So, what is lipoedema? It’s a loose connective tissue disorder that is widely under-recognised and misdiagnosed. Both conditions cause swelling of the legs, however, lymphoedema can also cause swelling of the fingers, feet and toes (whereas lipoedema patients often have disproportionately skinny feet). If you press a finger into an area of lymphoedema it will usually dent – this doesn’t happen with lipoedema.
3. It is shockingly common in females
Unlike lymphoedema which affects both males and females, lipoedema is almost exclusively a female condition. In fact, recent research has found that 10% of all females (of European descent as well as other populations) are affected by it. Yet, only recently is it being widely recognised by doctors as a distinct condition.
4. Lipoedema affects normal weight individuals too
People usually associate fat with being overweight, and although lipoedema can be worsened by carrying excess weight, many sufferers are within a normal weight range. For many of these women it can feel like they have two bodies. Their upper body, chest and abdomen is slim, but their lower half is out of proportion, making it difficult to find clothes that fit.
5. Diet & exercise won’t get rid of it
Lipoedema sufferers know how disheartening it is to hear your doctor recommend diet and exercise. Lipoedema is not typical weight gain and won’t go away with diet and exercise. Healthy lifestyle changes can help ease discomfort, but they will not get rid of the fat cells.
6. It causes chronic pain & bruising
Classic symptoms are not only thick legs and irreversible weight gain – sufferers also have to deal with constant leg pain and easy bruising in the affected areas. The pain can become chronic and severe, which is why it’s especially important to receive an accurate diagnosis and recommended treatment beyond diet and exercise.
7. The cause is unknown
Although it is known that the effects of lipoedema are caused by an abnormal build-up of fat cells, and despite doctors first recognising the condition in the 1940’s – experts still do not know what causes it. The onset of lipoedema appears to be related to hormonal changes, as many women develop it during puberty, pregnancy or the menopause. The condition also seems to run in families, suggesting a genetic connection.
8. Liposuction is the most effective & long-lasting lipoedema treatment
When it comes to treating lipoedema, there are very little options that truly make a difference. Low-impact exercise and compression garments may help reduce swelling and discomfort, but they won’t get rid of fat cells. Liposuction is recommended by the Society for Phlebology and the Royal Society of Medicine as the most effective way to get rid of the fat cells that cause this condition.
With the pioneering microlipo treatment, painful fat cells are gently removed to achieve effective and long-lasting improvement. After years of being burdened by heavy legs, many patients feel they have been given a new lease of life and have renewed self-confidence.
If you would like to find out more about lipoedema liposuction, book your one-on-one consultation with Dr. Puneet Gupta today.