By Laura Muncie
It’s 2019 and women still don’t receive help when they say they are in pain. One area where this is especially true is diagnosis and treatment of Lipoedema.
June is Lipoedema awareness month. Lipoedema is a painful long-term condition where an abnormal build-up of fat cells affects the legs, thighs, buttocks and arms. Lipoedema mostly affects women.
Despite distinctive symptoms: extreme tenderness, easy bruising, poor ankle definition, symmetrical enlargement of the legs and buttocks, the condition is still being misdiagnosed by GP’s as obesity. When diet and exercise yield little improvement, sufferers can find their mental health deteriorates alongside their physical health.
In Scotland it is estimated a staggering number of women suffer from Lipoedema, more than 250,000. But difficulty getting a diagnosis, and lack of public awareness, means this number might be higher.
The best known way to alleviate Lipoedema is tumescent liposuction. Currently only one NHS surgeon in the UK performs tumescent liposuction, Dr Alex Munnoch at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.
On January 22nd a cross-party group at The Scottish Parliament, convened by MSP Monica Lennon, discussed Lipoedema. Dr Munnoch attended and gave key recommendations which included:
- Greater awareness that Lipoedema is a medical condition, not simply obesity.
- Better education of all healthcare professionals.
- Adequately resourced facilities for diagnosis, support & management.
Dr Anne Williams, consultant in Lymphology and lecturer at Queen Margaret University, also presented at the meeting. Afterwards Dr Williams wrote:
“We hope that, in Scotland, we will soon start to see a growing awareness of Lipoedema…and a move to develop more robust services.”
If you think you or someone you care about may suffer from Lipoedema, the following links may help.