PEAR-SHAPED, WITH FAT LEGS AND THIGHS
COULD BE: Lipoedema.
This swelling in the legs and thighs is caused by abnormal accumulation of fat cells in the tissues under the skin, and a build-up of fluid in those fat cells.
Another tell-tale sign is that the legs often feel very tender (it is also called ‘painful fat syndrome’) and bruise easily. They may also have a cellulite appearance.
‘Many doctors confuse it with weight gain or it can be confused with lymphoedema, which is caused by a problem with the lymphatic drainage system,’ explains Constantinos Kyriakides, a vascular surgeon at Barts and London NHS trust.
‘Lipoedema tends to concentrate in the calves, knees, thighs and lower girth, whereas lymphoedema can affect other parts of the body.
‘Weight seems to have no bearing on the condition, so you can have a very slim upper body, but very heavy buttocks, thighs and lower legs.’
WHO'S AT RISK? It affects 5 to 10 per cent of the female population. No one knows what triggers it, but a family link has been found in roughly a fifth of cases.
WEIGHT-LOSS SOLUTION: There is no cure, but special bandaging (compression garments) can support the tissues and encourage the lymph system to drain excess water