Early diagnosis is essential and is most likely to be made by your GP, a hospital doctor, or a specialist lymphoedema practitioner.
TIPS ON WORKING WITH YOUR DOCTOR TO GET A DIAGNOSIS:
- Recognise that you will probably feel uncomfortable and anxious going to the doctor, consider bringing a close friend of family member with you.
- Expect your doctor to not have heard of lipoedema and that they may even mistake the word you’re saying for lymphoedema.
- Anticipate that the doctor may want to focus on obesity as we are in the grip of an obesity epidemic. You may want to acknowledge that you have weight to lose and that you have changed your eating habits.
- Decide which GP you are going to visit within your practice. Preferably choose one you have a familiar relationship with.
- Don’t take lots of issues to your doctor. Decide what you want to talk to them about and if it helps write down a list of questions and concerns before your appointment.
- Don’t expect the Doctor to read your mind. Ask for help.
If you take printed information with you about Lipoedema keep it brief and simple. You may want to make another appointment in order to give them time to research if they haven’t heard of it before. Talk Lipoedema can provide you with a letter of introduction and a leaflet. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your copies. You may also give him the following link to the eLearning module on Lipoedema provided by the Royal College of General Practitioners found at http://elearning.rcgp.org.uk/course/info.php?id=146
Be realistic about what your doctor can achieve in your 10 to 15 minute appointment. Your GP can offer referrals to a Lymphoedema Clinic or the Vascular or Dermatology department. Take notes about what the doctor says, or ask a friend or family member to take notes for you.
WHAT TO EXPECT ON YOUR VISIT TO THE LYMPHOEDEMA CLINIC:
At the initial Lymphoedema Service visit, the therapist should ask you for your full health history; for instance, about any conditions like Diabetes, Thyroid issues, and surgery you may have needed. Take a list of your medications with you and know why you have been advised to take them. This will help the clinic to build up a full picture of your needs and respond accordingly.
You will be measured for compression garments to help alleviate the swelling by supporting the swollen tissue, and improving the action of your lymphatic system. You will be entitled to two pairs of compression every six months on prescription. You can find out more here.
- You may also be given advice on self-management such as caring for your skin, exercise and support with lifestyle adjustments. You can find out by exploring the rest of the site, by joining our forums or connecting with us on Facebook.
- Your local clinic may able to offer you Manual lymph drainage (MLD) therapy (a type of massage) or other methods that may improve the lymphatic system's function such as compression pumps. MLD is not always available on the NHS but you can find more information and a list of private therapists on the MLD UK website. MLD UK Website