Many people with lipoedema find it difficult and embarrassing to discuss their symptoms with their doctor, but as Lipoedema is often a progressive condition it is important to obtain an early diagnoses so GPs and patients can work together to prevent symptoms getting any worse.
Symptoms are often mis-diagnosed for lymphoedema or obesity and if left undiagnosed lipoedema can develop into lipo-lymphoedema.
A number of factors are taken into consideration when making a diagnosis of Lipoedema:
- Disproportionately larger/fatter legs and hips compared to the upper body
- Swelling is symmetrical (both sides of the body are affected equally)
- Hands and feet are not affected
- Loose, floppy connective tissues around the knee joints
- Fat that looks like cellulite and feels soft
- Tenderness/pain and easy or spontaneous bruising to affected areas
- Skin of affected areas may be pale and cold
- Upper arms may also be disproportionately fatter
- Patients may report increased swelling in hot weather
The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) in partnership with Lipoedema UK have developed an elearning course for the diagnosis and management of Lipoedema.
Lipoedema UK’s Big Survey 2014 revealed that only 5% of doctors were aware of Lipoedema. Most women reported on the frustration of decades of describing their symptoms to numerous health care professionals only to have their concerns brushed aside. This led to a failure to obtain an early diagnosis and lost opportunity to obtain advice and treatment in the early stages. Consistent lack of diagnosis can also lead to emotional problems and loss of self-esteem, especially as it was often inferred that the patient’s lifestyle may have caused Lipoedema.
Edited by Dr Dirk Pilat, contributors to the course include the UK’s leading expert on Lipoedema Professor Peter Mortimer, Dr Sarah Pledger, Lipoedema UK’s Suzanne Evans, Sharie Fetzer and Nurse Consultants Chris Wise and Denise Hardy.
Lipoedema UK Membership pack includes a GP Information pack for anyone who feels they have the symptoms of Lipoedema but are unsure how to approach their GP. We provide a letter addressed to your GP informing them of the elearning course and explaining why it is important to obtain a diagnosis.The course has also been endorsed by the Royal College of Nurses.
This course is free for members of the Royal College of General Practitioners but will cost non members £25.
To view the course: click here