Common Symptoms and Characteristics
of Lipoedema

Lipoedema almost exclusively affects women. Women of all ages, sizes and ethnicities may be affected. Individuals may present with all or some of the signs and symptoms outlined below. ​

Symptoms include pain, heaviness and discomfort in the affected areas, which can often bruise easily. Fatigue, joint problems, swelling, reduced mobility, flat feet and gait problems may be experienced. The body disfigurement in Lipoedema can lead to feelings of low self-esteem, shame and embarrassment that can sometimes lead to anxiety, depression and hopelessness. People with Lipoedema may try numerous diets to try to change the size or shape of their limbs, and although normal weight loss can occur, it does not affect Lipoedema fat, which may lead to eating disorders, malnutrition and low energy.

Key characteristics of Lipoedema

What causes Lipoedema and when does it start?

Although Lipoedema was first recognised in the 1940s, little research has been done into the disease. Its cause is unclear, but researchers agree that Lipoedema is almost certainly a genetic inherited condition because there is often, but not always, more than one family member affected. Mother, daughter, sister and grandmother may all be affected in one family. Research on the genetic links to Lipoedema are ongoing. There is a hormonal link to Lipoedema, particularly oestrogen, and symptoms usually start around:

  • Puberty
  • Pregnancy
  • Menopause

Lipoedema is not caused by being overweight. Obesity is a different condition. You can be a healthy weight and still have Lipoedema.

Can men have Lipoedema?

Lipoedema almost exclusively affects people assigned female at birth, with only a few cases reported in men. Researchers have estimated that Lipoedema may affect approximately 10% of people worldwide. Lipoedema can also be spelled either Lipodema or Lipedema.

Can Lipoedema be cured?

There is currently no cure for Lipoedema – there are conservative (non-surgical) and surgical treatments, however, that can help to manage the symptoms.

Who gets Lipoedema?

Lipoedema is more likely in people:

  • who are assigned female at birth
  • who have a family history of Lipoedema
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