June is National Lipoedema Month, so a good opportunity to raise awareness of this chronic condition. Antonia is a Lipoedema patient here at Strathcarron; keen to raise awareness of the condition, she has kindly agreed to share her story.

“Lipoedema is a chronic condition that makes you accumulate fat below the waist, often giving you hips, buttocks and legs out of proportion with your upper body. In addition, the abnormal tissue is often very painful.

I believe I’ve had Lipoedema all my life, but it was only diagnosed in my sixties.

I’m keen to raise awareness of the condition, as if you can have interventions sooner, your treatment is more fruitful. Having Lipoedema doesn’t define me, but it has affected me in a number of ways and impacts on my Quality of Life. I have always had ‘big legs’ and, before my diagnosis, doctors just kept telling me to go on a diet and exercise. As a teenager I did starve myself and ended up on a drip in hospital.

My diagnosis ten years ago was purely by chance. I was in a shop in Germany where they sold medical supplies. One of the staff  asked me if I had always had big legs. It was a hot summer’s day, so I had a dress and strappy sandals on and she could see my legs clearly. She advised it could be Lipoedema and she had confidence in her judgement, so I contacted my local GP when I returned home.

My GP hadn’t heard of Lipoedema, but luckily she was willing refer me to the lymphoedema nurse in oncology, who diagnosed lipoedema straight away.

I was referred to Strathcarron’s Lipoedema and Lymphoedema team later in the year , where I receive treatments including Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD), helping me to manage my condition. The team taught me how to do MLD myself over Covid and shared exercises via Zoom, as well as holding group meetings with other people with the same condition.

Having the team at Strathcarron feels like they have my back. They help me check things, are always on the lookout for possible complications, and are always up to date with any new research or treatments, they’re really good”.

Strathcarron Hospice hosts the only specialist Lipoedema and Lymphoedema clinic in Forth Valley. If you have, or think you have Lipoedama or Lymphoedema and would like to speak to us about possible treatment, contact our specialist team on [email protected] if you have any questions or concerns.