What is Lipoedema?

 Lipoedema (Painful Fat Syndrome) is a progressive condition that affects many women.  Lipoedema is a genetic fat disorder that affects 11% of Australian women with various presentations.
There is no simple blood test or scan to diagnose Lipoedema, so the diagnosis is made by history and physical examination.

Physical Characteristics of Lipoedema are:

  • Legs are enlarged bilaterally and symmetrically (arms can also be affected)

  • Waist is small in proportion to the thighs, buttocks and legs

  • Fat deposition is bilateral and symmetric

  • Fat deposits are seen in the thighs, legs with NO involvement of the feet

  • 30% of patients have arms and forearms involved with NO involvement of the hands

  • There appears a 'cuff' around the ankle and a round pad of fat just below the knees

  • Waist is small in proportion to the hips, thighs, buttocks and legs

  • Family history (genetic pre-disposition)
  • Change is noticed in the limbs when significant hormonal events occur such as puberty, pregnancy, menopause
  • Diet and exercise have no effect
  • Feet and hands are exempt and a 'cuff' or “bracelet” effect can appear just above the ankles and wrists.
  • Legs are painful to touch

  • Legs are cold

  • Evidence of dilated veins and bruising is commonly seen

  • The fat is soft to touch, wobbly and cold

  • The skin is always involved in Lipoedema and skin has a cellulite appearance.




  • Legs bruise easily 
  • Legs feel heavy at the end of the day
  • Strong Family History of Lipoedema mainly affecting females though rare cases of it affecting males has been reported. You may inherit this from either side of your family.
  • The first sign of fat deposition in the thighs occur following the hormonal changes of puberty.
  • Pregnancy and menopause are two other periods where significant fat deposition and worsening of symptoms is noted.
  • It is a matter of great frustration and confusion that exercise or diet have no effect on reducing the fat in lipoedema.




Low inflammation diet, Calorie controlled diet, low impact daily movement such as walking, aqua aerobics and yoga, vibration plates,  MLD therapy, Endermologie, Customised Lipoedema Compression garments, Sequential Intermittent Pneumatic Compression devices.    



Liposuction is a surgical treatment to remove stubborn fat, limit disability, slow disease progression, reduce the risk of permanent lymphatic dysfunction and may assist in the reduction of pain symptoms.  

As of today,  Liposuction is the only method proven to safely remove the ' Lipoedema Fat'. However it is important to note that liposuction for Lipoedema provides a form of control but not a definitive cure.

Water Assisted Liposuction ( WAL Lipo or BODY JET)  is a precise and gentle technique where a high power water jet  separates and dislodges the fat cells  from the surrounding tissues with minimal damage to the lymphatics, while the suction simultaneously removes the fat that has been dislodged. 


The best results are seen in patients who are proactive and diligent with all conservative treatments methods before and after surgery.

Dr Somia has been successfully treating lipoedema patients since 2013.    To schedule a time to see Dr Somia please call us on 9387 2110 or send us an email via our contact page.



My patients find it helpful to be a part of the support groups such as LASS, which facilitates exchange of information that may be useful. The Lipedema Foundation ( USA) and the Fat Disorders Society are research organisations. For more information please see, and

                                                                                    LIPOEDEMA AUSTRALIA LOGO 2019-1


To learn more about lipoedema, listen to Dermhealth's podcast "Heal Thy Skin" where Dr Somia discusses the subject in detail.


Play Podcast

Talk about your experience with Lipoedema (painful fat syndrome)



All surgery carries risk.   A second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner is recommended before proceeding

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or call: 02 9387 2110


Royal Australasian College of Surgeons


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