Lymphoedema or lipoedema?

November 11th, 2016

Lymphoedema or lipoedema?

These two conditions can look very similar, but there are important differences. Lipoedema is a long-term (chronic) condition typically involving an abnormal build-up of fat cells in the legs, thighs and buttocks, whereas Lymphoedema is swelling under the skin caused by a build-up of fluid in the lymphatic system – the network of vessels that drains excess fluid from body tissue.  The skin of someone with lymphoedema will pit or indent when you press it, but this will not happen with lipoedema.

Non-surgical treatments

Compression therapy – bandages or garments that squeeze the affected limbs
Exercise – usually low-impact exercises, such as swimming
Massage – techniques that help encourage the flow of fluid through your body


These treatments are similar for both conditions, although for Lipoedema, liposuction is the only treatment that appears to be effective in reducing the build-up of fatty tissue.  Non-surgical treatment is often still needed after liposuction for continual improvement of the condition.


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