WHAT IS LIPOEDEMA? 

Lipoedema is a chronic and progressive disorder of the adipose (fat) tissue. It is sometimes called painful fat syndrome. Lipoedema mainly affects women. It usually presents in the lower half of the body but can also be found in the upper arms and other areas of the body. If undiagnosed it may progress though different stages, and might lead to lymphoedema. 

Estimates of the incidence of Lipoedema vary widely and may be as high, as 11% of the post-puberty female population. This means that everyone knows someone with Lipoedema. 

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES? 

The exact causes of Lipoedema are unknown, but it is thought that hormonal factors play a role as the onset of the disease is often at puberty. Lipoedema frequently gets worse at the time of hormonal changes in a women's life, such as pregnancy and at menopause. The disease may be genetic and inherited, although it can miss a generation. 

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WHAT ARE THE TYPICAL SIGNS OF LIPOEDEMA? 

  • Upper body is smaller than lower body. 
  • Weight is gained on hips and thighs and below knee; this is usually bilateral and symmetrical, although the feet may not be affected. 
  • Bruising occurs spontaneously and is often unexplained. 
  • Enlarged areas are sensitive to touch. 
  • Deep throbbing pain in legs; pain in knee joints. 
  • Legs feel heavy and swell throughout the day but resolve overnight. In early stages. 
  • Fat on legs looks dimpled like "orange peel”. 
  • Lipoedema fat does not respond to dieting or exercise.