Lymphedema, Lipedema

Lymphedema and lipedema (lipoedema) are important topics that receive too little attention.

  • please have a visit to some of the websites listed below that offer extensive info
  • lipedema can easily be missed as a diagnosis when people are dealing with weight gain
  • there are some anecdotal reports among people living with lipedema that many (not all) have found a low carb or ketogenic eating pattern to be very helpful

Lipedema in particular is something few people are aware of. Here is just a part of the information given on a very useful good description page, on The Lipedema Project site: LINK


Lipedema Facts

  1. Lipedema’s trademark is the excess deposition and expansion of fat cells in an abnormal and particular pattern in the legs. There is usually bilateral and symmetrical (both legs, fairly even) swelling of the legs and hips extending from the waist to the ankles, with the fat forming a ring or cuff just above the ankle. The feet are usually unaffected. Lipedema may occur in the upper arms as well.
  2. Lipedema occurs almost exclusively in women. There are a few rare cases where lipedema has been diagnosed in men.
  3. Lipedema fat is resistant to diet and exercise. Although diet and exercise can help both pain and mobility, they are unlikely to change the disproportionate size of the legs or arms for lipedema patients in any significant way.
  4. Lipedema can occur in women of all sizes, ranging from seriously underweight to morbidly obese. Being thin is not a guarantee that someone does not have lipedema.
  5. Lipedema seems to have a genetic component. In some families it is inherited through a maternal lineage, so a grandmother, mother, and daughter might all have lipedema. Males can be carriers, so daughters can also inherit from a paternal lineage.
  6. Lipedema is thought to be affected by hormones. Some women see the first signs of lipedema around puberty. Others first show symptoms around pregnancy or perimenopause. Cases of lipedema have also appeared following gynecological surgery or after major trauma or surgery. These triggers are predominantly periods of major stress and/or high hormonal disturbance.
  7. Lipedema is more common than you think. Estimates of the incidence of lipedema vary widely, ranging as high as 11% of the post-puberty female population. That would mean close to 17 million women in the United States alone, and as many as 350 million women worldwide.



See also this page about the potential link between type 2 diabetes and dysfunction of the lymphatic system: Diabetes – Lymphatics

British Columbia Lymphedema Association (BCLA) 

Lymphatic Education and Research Network

National Lymphedema Network

The Lipedema Project

Lymphology Association of North America (LANA) 

Klose Lymphedema Training

Much information, including a DVD that can be purchased with instructions for doing manual lymph drainage yourself.

Blog by Joachim Zuther on Lymphedema

Extensive information. Many articles and videos.

About Possible Benefits of Weight Loss and Low Carb or Ketogenic Eating Pattern

Lipedema and Keto Summit 2017  LINK

This was a very informative webinar series, first available in the spring of 2017. It has twice been available for free, but (at this time) now is available for purchase. I list this here to indicate the degree of interest in this topic, not to specifically suggest that you should purchase the series. Most of the content is excellent, but there are some points I would not agree with. Like all general educational content online, what really matters is to talk to your health care practitioner about what you learn and what might be useful things for you to try in your unique circumstances.

Article: A New Look at Lymphedema and Obesity: Breaking the Cycle

A two-part article by Leslyn Keith, MS. OTR/L, CLT-LANA

Part 1    Part 2


“The Benefits of Abdominal Breathing Exercises in the Management of Lymphedema”

Abdominal (diaphragmatic) breathing exercises are a valuable tool in stimulating deep lymphatic structures, such as the cisterna chyli (13), the abdominal part of the thoracic duct (14), lumbar trunks (11) and lumbar lymph nodes, pelvic lymph nodes, and certain organ systems.


Stimulation of these deep lymphatic structures, in particular the thoracic duct (the largest lymph vessel in the body), accelerates the transport of lymph fluid toward the venous angles (15), through which the lymph fluid is returned into the blood circulatory system.

When doing intentional breath work – please be careful not to over-breath. If you are resting, especially if sitting or lying down, you don’t need a high volume of breath going in and out each moment. If you start to feel light-headed or dizzy, please stop intentionally controlling your breath and just let your body control your breath as it wants.

A general good tip is to take a pause after each breath out, and pay attention to when your body wants to start the next breath in again. So that pattern would be:

  • a slow breath in
  • without deliberately holding your breath in, let that full breath in come to a crest like the rounded top of a wave, and gently transition into a slow breath out
  • generally, a favourable pattern is to have the out breath be longer than the in breath
  • as you come to the end of the out breath, pay attention to your body’s signals. At rest, you don’t need a high volume of breath in a minute, so if you are breathing deeply, you don’t need to breath as often. Be prepared to let your body just rest calmly and start the next in breath when your body wants to.
  • if at any moment you feel you are starting to fight your body, or your feel stress, light-headed or dizzy or just out-of-sorts, let go of being intentionally in control of your breath. Just let go of forcing any pattern on your breath and let your body’s natural breath control take over.
  • initially, keep to just a few minutes of intentional breath control and see how you do. You could make your practice a bit longer as you become more experienced and confident.