I have a little confession (as it is #selfawaresunday) I use to HAAAAAATE the drastic difference between my waist and my hips. It made my life hell for so long. I was teased for it. I was body-shamed for it (mostly my dad & grandparents) I was called lazy and fat and told that I didn’t care about myself because of it. The difference was always pointed out to me like I was completely clueless… Like I didn’t live in this body. Like I didn’t have the constant reminder of the hips every time I tried to sit in a chair with arms. No one understands the impact Lipedema can have on a person’s life not just physically but mentally
I felt my body looked like one of the books for little kids where you flip through the pages and can match or mismatch the top half of a lion with the bottom half of a hippo. It’s hard to have this condition that just makes you ache all the time and yet you’re not really allowed to act like you are feeling miserable. The second you admit feeling miserable it’s a tidal wave of “if you just lost weight… if you just moved around more…if you just started walking” as if I have NO clue that these basic ideas could help. However, Lipedema fat just can’t be lost with regular diets and exercise. And some days the constant dull ache is more than just dull and the idea of moving legs that feel like cement sounds like pure hell.
Many of you have asked what exactly is Lipedema? Lipedema is when damaged fat cells that have absorbed lymph fluid are distributed in an irregular way beneath the skin, usually in the buttocks and legs. Lipedema can also be in present in the upper arms.
- Lower body disproportionately larger
- Adipose deposits unresponsive to diet or exercise
- Column-like appearance to legs
- Pain, tenderness upon touch
- Non-pitting edema in lower limbs
- Cuffing around ankles
- Vascular fragility
- Subcutaneous nodules
As you can see there is a visible difference in how Lipedema fat cells look compared to regular fat. That is why it is so frustrating to me that the liposuction procedure to help with Lipedema is rarely covered by insurances. And when it is covered you have to jump through hoops first. They will pass out gastric bypass surgeries like it’s as cheap as a Band-Aid now so when will the liposuction for Lipedema be recognized as medically necessary.
There are a few different types of Liposuction that will remove Lipedema.
Water-Jet Assisted Liposuction (WAL) is a highly specialized technique used in the treatment of Lipedema. Unlike conventional liposuction methods, during the WAL procedure, fat is gently detached from the tissue structure by a flat, fan-shaped water-jet, and then aspirated. The surrounding lymphatics, connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels remain much less traumatized which is extremely important in the treatment of Lipedema.
The main objective of the WAL procedure is to alleviate pain, increase mobility, and prevent the progression of Lipedema which can severely limit a patient’s activities of daily living (ADLs). Experts agree that WAL is not a cosmetic procedure for Lipedema patients but is instead absolutely medically necessary. Each patient is unique; therefore, results of treatment may vary.
Power-Assisted Liposuction (PAL) because it can be difficult to move a cannula (the liposuction tube used to remove fat), back and forth through fat tissue, surgeons are not always able to effectively remove all unwanted fat. Power-Assisted Liposuction features devices that are easier for surgeons to control, allowing for more precise and thorough fat removal. These devices produce rapid, small vibrations to break up fat so that it can easily be suctioned out through the cannula.
PAL is performed using a special cannula which uses tiny, rapid vibrations to break up fat cells so that they can be suctioned out of the body. Doctors can remove more fat in a shorter period of time, which leads to enhanced results, a safer procedure, and faster recovery. PAL is performed using the tumescent liposuction technique, in which an anesthetic liquid is injected into the treatment area for smooth fat transfer through the cannula and out of the body.
The VASER liposuction system works as a customizable body sculptor to eliminate fat and smooth the skin’s surface, helping reduce the look of fat pockets and nodules under the skin. This minimally-invasive liposuction procedure uses ultrasound waves to selectively break up small or large areas of fat. It works particularly well when used to further define areas such as the ankles and knees following removal of larger areas of fat with the WAL and PAL techniques.
Some great Lipedema resources are:
- The Lipedema Society on IG
- Dr. David Armon IG or website
- Dr. Michael Schwartz Facebook or IG
If you know of any other great resources let me know!
Check out Zach's instagram for some great art! He was kind enough to sketch up my 1/2 lion 1/2 hippo