Are you pear shaped with heavy legs? You may have Lipedema…

Lipedema “the Goddess figure”

What is Lipedema?Lipedema

Lipedema, often referred to as painful fat syndrome, is a little known but relatively common chronic fat disorder that is often mistaken for simple obesity or lymphedema.   It is characterized by symmetric enlargement of the legs as fat is distributed in an irregular way beneath the skin, resulting in disproportion of upper and lower body.  The buttocks, hips and arms can all be affected.  The loose connective tissue looks like cellulite and feels soft.  Lipedema almost exclusively occurs in women and the cause is unknown however there is evidence of hormonal and hereditary influences.  It is a progressive disease with four stages.

Symptoms of Lipedema

The typical symptoms are excess weight on your legs, not including ankles or feet, which are often tender and bruise easily, as well as painful knees.   With disease progression, fat continues to build up and over time, fat cells block the vessels of your lymphatic system which prevents proper drainage of lymph fluid thus leading to build-up of fluid called lymphedema.

Lipedema is relatively unresponsive to diet and exercise as fat cells stay despite the weight loss.  This weight loss may be noticeable in other areas of the body but the size of the hips and legs remains disproportionately large.


  • Lipedema can be inherited
  • It effects mostly women
  • 50% of lipedema patients also suffer from obesity
  • Lipedema is triggered by hormonal effects (puberty, pregnancy, gynecological surgery etc)
  • It is identified by the accumulation of fat in an unusual bilateral, symmetrical pattern
  • With disease progression, pain, tenderness and swelling increase while mobility decreases
  • Different body styles but same fat deposits
  • Lipedema fat is resistant to diet and exercise

Do you think you may have Lipedema? These are the first steps…

  • The first step to keeping Lipedema under control is to obtain a diagnosis and to realise that the condition “is not your fault”.
  • Make an appointment with your GP to discuss your symptoms and the affect these have on your daily life. As research into Lipedema is still relatively new, medical professionals may not yet be aware of the condition.  It can be helpful to bring along some references or information about Lipedema.   Most GPs refer patients with lipedema to see a Manual Lymphatic Drainage therapist who is trained to advise patients on appropriate treatments and lifestyles.

Here is a great link to pass on to your GP

  • Walking, walking, walking! The more you walk, the better lymph fluid can drain from your legs, boosting mobility and  decreasing the feeling of “heavy” legs
  • Research more about Lipedema to get a better understanding of the condition and join a support group ( i.e. on Facebook)
  • Book in for Manual Lymphatic Drainage treatments to help relieve pain and prevent fibrosis and to discuss combined decongestion therapy and/or other treatment options.

Our Specialists

Daniela is a certified Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapist practicing the Dr Vodder Method.  She also offers Combined Decongestive Therapy (CDT) where needed.

Daniela Graham

Daniel Graham