Phlebologie 2018; 47(02): 84-92
DOI: 10.12687/phleb2411-2-2018
Originalarbeit – Original articles
Schattauer GmbH

Lipoedema – myths and facts Part 1

Article in several languages: deutsch | English
T. Bertsch
1   Földiklinik Hinterzarten – Europäisches Zentrum für Lymphologie
G. Erbacher
1   Földiklinik Hinterzarten – Europäisches Zentrum für Lymphologie
2   Dipl.-Psychologin, Psychologische Psychothera peutin, Supervisorin (hsi)
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

Eingereicht: 30 January 2018

Angenommen: 25 February 2018

Publication Date:
02 April 2018 (online)


Lipoedema is much more than just fat and painful legs! Lipoedema as a disease is associated with numerous myths. In this overview we take a critical view of two popular statements on lipoedema. We have found that statements made in scientific publications decades ago have been repeated over and over again without criticism. These statements have become part of the general knowledge for lipoedema patients and lipoedema self-help groups. In our representation of the myths regarding lipoedema, we will focus in this contribution on two aspects in particular, which are closely associated with lipoedema: on obesity and the psychiatric health of lipoedema patients, which is again closely associated with obesity. We will thus examine two commonly publicised statements for actual scientific evidence: 1. „Lipoedema is a progressive disease”, 2. „Lipoedema causes mental diseases”. Both statements contradict to a high degree our daily clinical experience with this specific subset of patients. We simultaneously established, through extensive literature research, that there was no evidence for these statements which have become part of the vocabulary for lipoedema. In fact not lipoedema is progressiv! The truth is that lipoedema patients often experience weight progression (mostly a progression in obesity), which leads to worsening of the lipoedema as a result. Our pilot study on the second statement shows that lipoedema is generally not the cause of mental illness. In fact, our studies show the opposite: an existing psychological vulnerability can contribute signficantly to the disease lipoedema. In order to encompass lipoedema in all of its complexity and variety we need more than just medicine. Psychosocial therapy approaches should be an integral component of an effective multimodal treatment concept.

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