My Pedicures Are Painful? Do I Have Lipedema?


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Ow! If your last stop at the spa was anything but sole-soothing, read this.

Booking a much-deserved, pampering pedicure is a relaxing and restorative ritual that often tops the self-care to-do lists of most busy women (and even men!). Not just an opportunity to get a professionally applied painting of pretty polish to flaunt while donning your favorite flip-flops or strappy sandals, a spa-status pedicure is beloved for all the toe-enticing “extras.” The gratifying sloughing of dead skin from scaly soles, softening of hardened calluses, and soaking tired tootsies in warm, sudsy water with just the perfect amount of tranquility-inducing lavender are just some of the body-boosting benefits one can expect when booking a pedicure. But, probably the most anticipated spa-mazing moment of any pedicure is the toe-tingling massage. It’s the warm touch and deep, therapeutic kneading of the lower legs, sore soles, and between the toes that give us all the foot feels. However, if you’re a lipedema patient, or suspect you may have lipedema, that much-loved, mollifying massage and soak session is anything but euphoric. Moreover, if you’re a lipedema sufferer, any massaging or touching of the lower extremities can be downright miserable.

Painful Pedis and Lipedema: When a Trip to the Spa Turns Tortuous

Because the acute accumulation of adipose tissue in the legs spares the feet in lipedema patients, peculiarly enough, it’s not the act of nail cutting/filing or exfoliation of flaky skin that becomes excruciating painful or discomforting, but the kneading and manipulation of the lower legs during a professional pedicure. One of the most troubling characteristics of this poorly misunderstood disorder is that it inherently causes the skin to become spongy, cold, and super sensitive to the touch, creating excruciating pain, soreness, and even bruising in some cases. So, the very part of the pedicure that leaves women wanting more, especially after a long day or the end of an overwhelming work week, becomes the most dreaded for lipedema sufferers. If your lipedema is in the advanced stages, a massage during a pedicure can exacerbate venous complications, making massage nearly intolerable. Not to mention the heat involved… Lipedema and Lymphedema ladies know to steer clear of soaking in hot water and wrapping in warm towels or swelling will incur.

Tips to Make Your Next Pedicure a Toe-tally Exhilarating Experience

Before you step foot into the salon or spa, here are some easy tips to make your next sole-soothing session a pain-free success:

  • Forgo the massage entirely
  • Keep your feet dry. Lymph issues and poor circulation caused by lipedema or lymphedema make those suffering more susceptible to infections caused by bacteria or fungi
  • If you do soak your feet…have your pedicure technician keep the water lukewarm or cool.
  • Soaking in hot water can cause additional swelling for those with lipedema and lymphedema
  • Stay away from hot stones, hot towels, or anything hot! The heat will cause swelling in affected areas
  • Alert your pedicure technician to not cut into the nail wall; this could cause additional inflammation if irritated
  • Relish in some fun, pretty polish – because you deserve to look AND feel good!

Put Your Best Foot Forward with a Medi-Pedi

Women with lipedema may also want to consider undergoing a medical pedicure. Performed exclusively by a board-certified podiatrist, this in-office, next-level pedicure does not use water and is a foot favorite amongst self-care connoisseurs and beauty buffs. Not just for those who suffer from common foot ailments like bunions, blisters, fallen arches, plantar fasciitis, or sports-related injuries, the emerging “medi-pedi” can also help ladies living with lipedema.

To learn more, please contact our Beverly Hills, California office to schedule a consultation with any of our highly trained specialists.