For Therapists

about lipedema

Therapists are often the first line of defense in treating lipedema. Therapists often find that patients are misdiagnosed as having lymphedema, when they in fact have -- or started with -- lipedema.

Lipedema is often compared to lymphedema because both conditions have edema and increased fat tissue. 

Lipolymphedema is the term used when a patient has both lipedema and lymphedema. There is a gray area here, though, because lipedema patients can swell.

The causes and drivers of lipedema are unknown.

Some lipedema patients report increased levels of inflammation. 

At least one study found reduced quadricep strength in people with lipedema.

Some lipedema patients are hypermobile and care must be taken to not cause injury. Some exercises can help.

treating lipedema

Many of the current lipedema treatments are aimed at treating the edema component. Typical lymphedema treatments may help lipedema patients, including compression, pumps, MLD, wrapping and CDT. Exercise is often recommended in order to stimulate lymphatic drainage by activating the calf and foot muscle pumps. Likewise, deep breathing can stimulate the diaphragm. Intense exercise may exacerbate inflammation and may not be ideal relative to walking, Pilates, cycling, yoga and aquatic exercises.

Lipedema patients may report that garments are bothersome to wear, as some patients find tight clothing intolerable. This feeling may reduce during treatment.

In general, lighter, graduated compression is preferred over other forms.

Some patients find pain relief by switching to anti-inflammatory diets; for example, eliminating Diet Coke has often been reported by patients to reduce pain.

The TREAT program at the University of Arizona identifies supplements and medications that may help manage lipedema symptoms, for example by reducing inflammation and/or increasing lymphatic pumping efficiency.


Currently there are no lipedema-specific training classes, however, lipedema is usually covered under general lymphedema training curricula at all of the lymphedema therapy courses.

Lipedema is usually on the agenda at the NLN (National Lymphedema Network), Klose Training, and ISL conferences. Lipedema is discussed in depth at the the FDRS (Fat Disorders Resource Society) conferences.

Please see our full Resources list for information on CME and other tools.