Donvale Rehabilitation Hospital
Part of Ramsay Health Care

Donvale Rehabilitation Hospital, Ramsay Health Plus Heidelberg and Tunstall Square lipoedema services provide comprehensive care to reduce the symptoms of your lipoedema and provide you with ongoing education and skills to help self-manage your lipoedema in your day-to-day life. Your care will be managed by an accredited ALA Lymphoedema therapist.

What is Lipoedema?

Lipoedema typically leads to a pattern of adipose tissue (fat) accumulation from the hips to the ankles, arms and often other parts of the body. Lipoedema may be found in women of all shapes and sizes.

Lipoedema is defined by the International Lipoedema Association (ILA) as a chronic condition in women characterised by 2 main criteria:

  • Disproportionate increase in adipose tissue in the legs (and sometimes in the arms)
  • Pain and/or tender to touch the skin in the affected region

There are different stages of Lipoedema. The progression of Lipoedema may not always occur though, and each person progresses at a different rate.

What are the symptoms of Lipoedema?

Symptoms vary, and not all women will experience all symptoms. Symptoms can include;

  • Disproportionate fat growth that affects both legs, buttock, thighs and /or arms
  • Pain and or tender to touch the skin in the affect region/s and the affected region/s often feel cold
  • Distinct ‘bracelet’ or cuffing effect at the wrist and ankle may be present – feet and hands are not usually affected
  • Bruise easily with minimal trauma
  • Diet and exercise has minimal impact on the affected region/s
  • Sensation of heaviness, achiness or discomfort in affected region/s
  • Altered skin texture and appearance – soft fat that can have a cellulite like appearance
  • Reduced hair growth on the affected region/s

What are the different types of Lipoedema?

There are 5 types of Lipoedema

Type I: Fat distribution is between the navel and the hips. It often covers the pelvis and buttocks

Type II: The fat distribution is around the pelvis and down to the knees

Type III: The fat distribution begins at the pelvis and continues down to the ankles. A person with this stage may have a prominent cuff of fat at the ankle

Type IV: The fat distribution spreads from the shoulders down to the wrists

Type V: The fat distribution is predominantly on the calves

What are the different stages of Lipoedema?

There are different stages of Lipoedema that can worsen with age. The progression of Lipoedema may not always occur though, and each person progresses at a different rate.

Stage 1 A surface of a person’s skin appears normal and is smooth to touch. The person will have nodules of enlarged fat present underneath the skin. A person with stage 1 lipoedema may experience some pain and easy bruising.
Stage 2 The surface of a person’s skin becomes uneven. The skin may become dimpled, have indentations, and develop mattress-like patterns. The amount of fat will also increase in stage 2 compared with stage 1.
Stage 3 A person may develop large extensions of skin and fat. These visible, large folds of skin and fat can protrude from the limbs. This can cause the legs to appear columnar. These protrusions of fat can put pressure on a person’s joints and may affect their mobility and balance. These protrusions develop due to inflammation and the thickening of tissues in the limbs. This causes a loss of elasticity, leading to reduced blood flow and lymph flow out of the fatty tissue, causing it to grow.
Stage 4 This stage is when lipoedema and lymphoedema are present in the body. There are often large overhangs of tissue on legs and/or arms.

Lymphoedema is the build-up of fluid in the body due to a damaged lymphatic system. Lymphoedema develops when lipoedema causes the build-up of fat cells to interfere with a person’s lymphatic system.

How is Lipoedema diagnosed?

Diagnosis is mostly done on a visual basis. You may have some but not all of the symptoms of Lipoedema. Lipoedema is often noticed when significant hormonal changes occur such as puberty, pregnancy and menopause.

What are the treatment options for Lipoedema can we offer?

Treatment requires a holistic approach and includes;

  • Education - Understanding all aspects of your Lipoedema including diagnosis and treatment
  • Staying physically active – this is beneficial for your health, in reducing pain, improving feelings of well-being and assisting to manage your weight. Our Physiotherapists and Exercise Physiologist can assist with personalised exercise programs which may include Hydrotherapy.
  • Psychological support – it is important to address your mental health and wellbeing just as much as your physical health. Our psychologists can provide support to assist with the psychological challenges often associated with the ongoing management of your Lipoedema.
  • Compression garments - our accredited Lymphoedema Practitioners can work with you to prescribe appropriate compression garments to assist with pain relief, support of soft tissue and to help improve mobility.
  • Decongestive therapy – Pure Lipoedema does not consist of fluid oedema, however, it can be combined with other causes of swelling including lymphoedema which is the accumulation of fluid due to lymphatic failure. Our accredited Lymphoedema Practitioners can work with you to help manage any oedema you may be experiencing through a range of decongestive therapies including; manual lymphatic drainage massage, use of sequential Pneumatic Intermittent Compression Pump ( SIPC) and laser therapy.
  • Diet Management – Lipoedema benefits from keeping your weight as stable as possible. We have dieticians who can assist with healthy eating.

For more information please contact;

You can access services via;