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Lipoedema is an abnormal disposition of fat which is painful – and people living with it can feel ignored and rejected by healthcare services as their condition is often misdiagnosed as obesity or lymphoedema. KLC offers a multidisciplinary approach to management, focusing on facilitation and enhancement of the patient’s ability to self-care, optimisation of health, and management of symptoms including compression therapy to manage pain. Self-management days for lipoedema patients (including peer support and garment measuring) will soon be offered to patients out of area – contact KLC for more detailed information.

Cause of Lipoedema:

Although the mechanism for the development of lipoedema is unknown; numerous factors are thought to be involved, including a possible genetic disposition, hormonal links and significant weight gain

Clinical Features:

There are numerous characteristics present including a symmetrical disposition of subcutaneous fatty tissue in the limbs, and a disproportional body shape (narrow/smaller torso and wide hips/thighs). The shape and area affected may vary. The feet and hands are spared; the Stemmers sign is negative. Psychological distress (depression, anxiety and frustration) is common.

Management of Lipoedema:

Components of care need to be tailored to the needs of the individual patient, taking into account the severity of symptoms and degree of complexity. They include:

  • Psychosocial support and the management of expectations (including a support group)

  • Stabilising weight through healthy eating (not diets!)

  • Exercise and ways to improve physical activity

  • Pain management

  • Compression therapy (hosiery, Intermittent Pneumatic Compression Therapy, or wraps)

  • Skin care and protection

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