Cellulite and Lipoedema. What’s the difference?

Cellulite and Lipoedema. What’s the difference?

Will Manual Lymphatic Drainage help?

These two conditions look very similar in their appearance.

Cellulite is a very common place health concern for women. 85% of Australian women have
cellulite. Cellulite occurs when the adipose tissue (fat cells) push against the connective
tissues under the skin. This causes hardening (Fibrosis) of the area and the skin will appear
lumpy and dimpled (similar to the skin of an orange). Cellulite in itself isn’t a medical
condition that requires your concern. It is more of an undesirable aesthetic appearance of
our skin that we don’t like.
Cellulite can occur due to poor diet and lack of exercise. It’s often part of the aging process
and the resultant hormonal fluctuations. Cellulite is more commonly associated with poor
lifestyle factors. Management of Cellulite is multifactorial with good nutrition and hydration,
along with Manual Lymphatic Drainage. You may require multiple session of MLD before
you start to see improvement in the appearance of your cellulite.








Lipoedema on the other hand is a chronic medical condition, it is a connective tissue disorder. Normal Adipose (Fat) tissue becomes diseased. It is uncurable and will progressively develop if not managed well. Lipoedema will have associated health concerns if left untreated. Unfortunately, diagnosis of Lipoedema takes a long time possibly because it so often gets confused for cellulite and it is not as widely understood as other diseases. Lipoedema is affected by changes in hormonal levels at times of puberty or pregnancy or menopause. Lipoedema is characterised by areas of unusual fat distribution (it can affect arms and legs, one or both limbs), it is painful to touch and there is higher frequency of bruising with minimal contact. No amount of dieting, however extreme will see you lose this “fat”.

Lipoedema may or may not be associated with another condition that affects the Lymphatic system known as Lymphoedema.







Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) has become a hot trend topic of late and for good reason. MLD can be very helpful for people whose lymphatic system is sluggish or has been compromised through surgery or illness and injury.

So what is MLD?

Manual Lymphatic Drainage. It’s a very gentle massage technique that supports and encourages your lymphatic system to get back to work! The massage strokes are directed in such a pattern that encourages and directs lymphatic fluid through the vessels to the lymph nodes and circulatory system to be excreted. See what happens when someone has lipoedema/Lymphoedema is that there is a lot of extra fluid floating around the cells rather than in them. Your lymphatic system is separate to the circulatory system, but they work very closely together to achieve good general health.

Negative reactions: Headache, nausea, fatigue. This often occurs because the bodies waste disposal network is doing its job well. We recommend that you come in having eaten well and drank plenty (more than normal typically) of water throughout the days prior to having MLD and this will lessen these symptoms.

When is MLD not safe to perform? People who have a heart conditions, kidney problems or cellulitis will need further assessment and consideration prior to having MLD. A medical history is important to allow us to have a better understanding as to what’s going on within the body. Poor venous, kidney or heart function need to be clearly understood and consideration around inflammatory responses to conditions within the body also need to be considered to ensure that Manual Lymphatic Drainage is going to be safe. Having said that I don’t want to put you off having MLD performed because it is a supportive treatment technique when performed correctly.

After you have MLD performed you may notice that you use the bathroom more regularly with an increase in urine output and the odour and colour of the urine may change. This is a normal reaction to the MLD treatment and may be associated with the reactions mentioned above. We encourage you to drink more prior to your appointment and to certainly keep drinking throughout this time after the MLD even though you will feel that the more you put in the more you put out and need to continually use the bathroom. This is body’s normal mechanism of rehydrating and it is very important to our overall health. There is no gold star measure of hydration in the body, but we do know if you are feeling thirsty, that is first sign that you are becoming dehydrated! So folks keep drinking the water!


Cellulite should not be confused with cellulitis.

Cellulitis is when you get a bacterial infection on your skin. The skin will appear reddened, and the skin can be broken and weepy and this area will be very painful and hot to touch. You will have a fever and feel generally unwell. You need to see your GP for antibiotics urgently as this condition spreads very quickly and can cause serious medical complications. MLD when you have cellulitis is NOT RECOMMENDED and in fact is CONTRAINDICATED. You will be declined treatment on that day and sent to your GP or ED. ITS THAT SERIOUS!