What is Lipoedema?

What is lipoedema?

Lipoedema is a chronic disease which is characterised by a chronic disproportional distribution of the subcutaneous fat accompanied with pain, the feeling of heaviness and discomfort. The disproportional increase in fat occurs most often in the legs and sometimes also in the arms and is an important criterion for this disease. It is important to differentiate lipedoema from obesity, because lipedema is often incorrectly diagnosed as obesity and wrongly treated. Many patients try “diet and exercise” but experience the jo-jo-effect gaining weight again.

Whereas mismatch of waist-to-height/waist-to-hip ratio can be observed in case of lipedema the case of obesity patients experience BMI increase. 

Furthermore, in contrast to lymphoedema oedema is only a minor symptom of lipoedema since it is only present in a small subgroup of lipoedema patients.

In contrast to the traditional view now experts agree that lipoedema usually is not progressive. 

Nevertheless, obesity is often progressive. If obesity is progressive, lipoedema can get worse and maybe hormonal changes play a role. 

Lipoedema management

Lipoedema is a chronic condition which needs an individual holistic treatment approach focusing on patient’s needs and enabling daily functioning. Thereby self-management is very important. 

Important corner stones of lipoedema treatment are skin care and protection, pain management and compression therapy. In addition, regular exercises, most suitable for each patient, have to be integrated into the daily life. 

MLD has been reported to have a positive psychological effect.

Furthermore, relaxation (yoga, mindfulness training) and psychotherapy are helpful. Liposuction is suitable only for some patient groups.

Optimising the health situation, avoiding risk factors and continues lipedema treatment are essential to manage lipoedema.

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