You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

The chronic condition that could be the reason you can't lose weight

Prima (UK) logo Prima (UK) 08/11/2017 Eleanor Jones

Lipoedema: The chronic condition that could be the reason you can't lose weight © Provided by National magazine company ltd (Hearst UK) Lipoedema: The chronic condition that could be the reason you can't lose weight Imagine spending years trying to lose weight from the lower half of your body, but finding that no diet or exercise regime ever changed your shape.

That is the reality for people who have lipoedema, which may affect as many as 11% of women to some degree. And, according to experts in the condition, many doctors don't even know it exists.

Lipoedema is a chronic condition that causes an abnormal build-up of fat cells in certain areas – typically the thighs, lower legs and bum, although it can occur on the arms as well.

Men can develop lipoedema, but the majority of cases affect women (the limited research conducted so far shows that it is linked to female hormones) – and because it's still poorly understood, many of them suffer in silence, without the support and treatment that they need.

'Most GPs are totally unaware of lipoedema and so it is essential to educate them, and this often falls to the patient themselves,' says Sharie Fetzer, chair of Lipoedema UK.

'The biggest misconception regarding lipoedema is that the fat is the same as obesity and therefore caused by overeating, and can be reduced by reducing calories and exercise.'

Symptoms of lipoedema include feelings of pain and heaviness, bruising easily, and cold, itchy or flaky skin, as well as the inability to lose weight from the affected area, no matter how hard you work. It doesn't affect the feet or hands, meaning that a 'bracelet' effect often forms around the ankles or wrists. Sufferers may also find that they have small broken veins under the skin.

a woman sitting on the ground © Provided by National magazine company ltd (Hearst UK) 'The side effects are very debilitating as the fat can cause pain and fatigue, [meaning] leading a normal life can be challenging,' Sharie explains. And it's not just the physical symptoms that have an impact.

In research conducted by the charity previously, 86% of women with the condition have low self-esteem, whilst 60% have feelings of hopelessness. Issues with eating disorders and depression are also common in those with lipoedema. 'Most people, including most doctors, assume I am lazy, greedy and fat,' one sufferer admitted.

Lipoedema usually starts when you go through puberty, and can cause problems in areas such as your sex life and even your career choices. Often, people with the condition struggle to stand on their feet all day, and in some cases, they have to claim disability benefit because the impact is so severe. 

The cause of lipoedema is still unclear, and if you think you might have it, diagnosis can be difficult. However, it's not impossible, and even though the NHS admits that 'there's some uncertainty about the best way to treat the condition', there are solutions out there that can help you to make improvements.

a man in a pool of water © Provided by National magazine company ltd (Hearst UK) Compression therapy can help to reduce the swelling and pain, as can exercising in water, either by swimming or taking aqua aerobics classes (although this will depend on how debilitating your pain is, and whether you feel able). Significant weight gain can make the swelling worse, so it's advised to avoid obesity if possible. Remember, dieting won't cure lipoedema, so ensure that your focus is simply on as staying fit, healthy and active as possible. 

It's also important to seek the advice of your doctor – and if they're not understanding, or come across as dismissive, don't give up.

'Only 5% of the UK's GP's are aware of the symptoms. If your GP is one of the 60,000 who have not been trained to recognise lipoedema, encourage them to continue their professional development by taking the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and Lipoedema UK's elearning course,' the charity advises.

'After completing the course, your GP will be able to make a diagnosis and direct you to any treatments and advice that may be available in your area.'

Related: 'The Rock' goes all out during training (provided by BuzzVideos)

UP NEXT
UP NEXT

For more of the most popular News, Sport, Lifestyle & Entertainment on MSN, Follow us on Facebook, and on Twitter

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Prima

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon