Lipoedema is a fairly unknown condition, however many women are affected by it, often unbeknownst to them.  Most will have sought help via their GP, but were told to just lose weight.  The condition does not respond to weight loss or exercise and thus patients become really frustrated.

Research has shown that early intervention minimises the progression and it can actually halt the process.

The most common areas that are affected are the thighs, knees, calves, ankles and upper arms.  It is predominantly seen in females (11% of the population) with very little incidence in males.  It can begin at any age, but commonly seen in late teens.   Many doctors and nurses are untrained in recognising the condition and thus many women go undiagnosed.

It is not to be confused with LYMPHOEDEMA – which is swelling of the extremities due to lack of lymph drainage.  The two however can co-exist as Lipo-lymphoedema.


What is the cause of Lipoedema?

At this stage there is very little scientific research that has been published in the causation of the condition, but there are various theories, which include female predominance, genetics, hormones (and their fluctuations), lifestyle, environmental, diet.  All of these may have some role to play, but may not been the only causation.  Hormonal influence is most likely a strong contender as the beginning of symptoms is often related to time frames like puberty, pregnancy, menopause.

What are the symptoms and signs of Lipoedema?

  • Lower torso heavy compared to upper half
  • Heaviness and discomfort of the legs or arms
  • You have a small waist, but large hips and thighs
  • Excess weight not apparent on hands and feet
  • You can lose weight from your upper body, but not your lower
  • You bruise easily
  • You recognise a similar body shape in other family members

 The condition can remain stagnant or progress from stages 1-3.

 See the 3 stages below:


Can Lipoedema be treated?

There is no direct ”CURE” for the condition.  We can however treat the disproportionate areas of fatty deposition and improve function and mobility.

Holistic Management

It is important not to only focus on the affected areas, but also make sure that your whole well-being is addressed.

Keeping fit is also essential and watching what you eat.  Diet has a massive impact on fluid retention, metabolism, weight maintenance etc.

MLD (manual lymphatic drainage) is a good start.  This will help with drainage and swelling of the areas.  Wearing compression hosiery is also helpful.

Best would be to find a MLD therapist specialising in lipoedema treatment.  Easiest is to find them on  or on

Liposuction for Lipoedema

There are numerous techniques that can be used to remove the excess tissue, but we use TUMESCENT VASER and MICRO liposuction to reduce the bulk.  We have had excellent success with treating many patients who have reported improvement in mobility and function.  In most cases there is also an improvement in aesthetic appearance.

What other Liposuction methods are available?

Essentially any method that removes the fat via suction can be used.  Over the last few decades many new power assisted techniques have become available.  Previously only the traditional old style liposuction was available.  That has now been superseded with newer techniques.  When we talk about power assisted we mean that the tissue is “prepared” before it is removed.  By this we mean that some form of energy source (light, heat, ultrasound, water-jet) is used to either break the tissue down or “melt” it.  This then makes the removal easier as the suction intensity can be reduced and this in turn has an effect on minimising the damage to the surrounding structures (such as nerves, blood vessels, lymph system).  This also shortens recovery as there is less trauma to the surrounding tissue.

Traditional liposuction relies in the cheese-grating effect of the cannula which is very traumatic and hence most patients end p very bruised and in lots of discomfort.

Other forms of Liposuction:

Radiofrequency – BodyTite (RFAL)

Water Jet – Water Jet, Body Jet (WAL), uses a high pressure water jet to dislodge the fat cells.

LASER lipo – uses laser

SmartLipo – uses laser

CoolLipo – uses laser

What is TUMESCENCE liposuction?

The word tumescence stems from the Latin word “tumere” – to swell.  During tumescent liposuction the tissue is infiltrated with fluid – usually anaesthetic fluid.  This has numerous benefits – it engorges the tissue which makes it easier to remove, it constricts the tiny blood vessels which results in less bleeding and bruising, it causes numbness which allows us to perform the procedure under local anaesthetic.  The fluid is also an essential medium to disperse ultrasound or heat energy when used in conjunction with power assisted liposuction.

That’s all tumescence means.  It is not the type of liposuction, but the fact that fluid is used to engorge the fat tissue.

Where can I find more information on Liposuction for Lipoedema?

There is a fantastic booklet with a wealth of information and guidance.


Lipoedema FAQ

  • Question: Can Lipoedema be treated with medication?

    Answer: Currently there is no medication to treat Lipoedema.

  • Question: Are there any help forums?

    Answer: Yes, , , , @Lipoedemauk on Twitter , @lipoedemaladies on Twitter

  • Question: What will happen to my skin?

    Answer: Generally if there is any doubt about the skin retraction Dr Wolf will advise you.

  • Question: Can the condition progress even after liposuction?

    Answer: Yes it can, however, with regular MLD and wearing compression hosiery the condition can be managed.

  • Question: What is the best diet and exercise routine?

    Answer: A well balanced diet with nutritious food is best, trying to avoid high yeast content, processed foods and alcohol. Minimise fluctuation in weight gain. Low impact exercise to limit damage to joints.

  • Question: Does liposuction help with the reducing the symptoms?

    Answer: A recent research paper shows that general impairment improved tremendously after liposuction not only in the immediate after period, but also after 8 years. Please paste this link into your browser to view the research paper:

  • Question: What if after the VASER liposuction the skin is too loose?

    Answer: Skin excision procedures are still an option.

  • Question: Can the condition progress after the liposuction?

    Answer: There is very little data to support or refute this, but initial studies show that the sooner one intervenes the less likely it will progress.

  • Question: Are there any help fora?

    Answer: 1) 2) 3)