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Complications and Consequences of Lipedema

Lipedema is a long-term (chronic) disease that cannot be cured. Early and holistic treatment can prevent lipedema from progressing. But complications such as overweight, mental distress, or joint problems are common in lipedema patients.

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Many lipedema patients report that it took them a long time to get the diagnosis and start with appropriate and holistic treatment. The disease is often misdiagnosed or mistaken for obesity or lymphedema. Moreover, it can be exhausting to find a healthcare professional (HCP) who takes your disease seriously and who you can trust.

Although early and holistic treatment can prevent lipedema from progressing, many lipedema patients have to cope with complications and consequences.


Many lipedema patients are overweight. Overweight not only increases your risk for other diseases, such as diabetes or cardiovascular diseases. It also increases the risk of developing lymphedema in addition to lipedema. Overweight can add additional stress to the lymphatic system putting pressure onto lymph nodes and vessels. Gaining weight can also worsen your lipedema.

You can learn more about overweight and obesity and the differences between obesity and lipedema here.

Limited social life

Shape disproportions, dissatisfaction with your own body, and painful sensations can make it difficult to participate in daily life. However, reducing your social activities is a vicious circle that only impairs your symptoms. Meeting friends, being active outside, joining a fitness class – all these activities may cost you a lot of effort. But in the end, it will be beneficial for your overall well-being.

Mental distress

Anxiety and depression are not only common in patients with lipedema – they are common in people with chronic diseases in general. Long-term and time-consuming therapy can be a significant burden. However, mental distress can worsen your lipedema symptoms, especially the perception of pain. Depression and stress disorders are associated with higher pain intensity. Eating disorders can also be common among lipedema patients. Therefore, you should not be afraid to seek psychological support. There are different options, such as joining a peer group, One to One dialogue with a therapist, or self-help tools.

Learn more about psychosocial support with lipedema

Joint problems

Overweight and painful sensations can make it hard to stay active and exercise regularly. This increases the risk for joint problems, such as osteoarthritis of your knees or hips. Physio and Movement therapy can help to maintain a stable weight, improve your muscles strength and flexibility, and prevent or improve joint problems.

Failed Diets

A typical sign of lipedema is the shape disproportion between your upper and lower body. You may find it difficult to accept your body as it does not fit the typical beauty ideal. Moreover, a narrow waist and larger thighs and hips can make it hard to buy clothes. Therefore, many lipedema patients try different diets to lose weight. However, you should avoid any diets – most of them aim to lose weight in a short time and fail in the end. This can even result in a higher weight than before, called the "yo-yo effect." Instead of dieting, balanced nutrition and regular exercise are more efficient to achieve a stable and healthy weight.


Learn more about the different elements of lipedema treatment