June Is Lipedema Awareness Month
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June marks a full month dedicated to raising awareness, providing resources, and advocating for equitable healthcare for patients living with the complicated, misunderstood, and often misdiagnosed disease that plagues roughly 11% of women and 1% of men.
While research, technology, and treatment advancements have come a long way since the fat deposition disorder was first diagnosed in 1940 by Mayo Clinic physicians Dr. Edgar Hines and Dr. Edgar Allen, there is still a long way to go.
What is Lipedema?
An irregularity that affects the healthy function of the vascular system, lipedema, which literally means “fluid in the fat,” is a debilitating dysfunction of fat deposition. Lipedema generally affects the lower body, specifically the buttocks and legs, oddly sparing the feet. Only in the last few years has the perplexing disorder garnered attention, bringing hope, help, and health to those disproportionately affected by its life-altering effects. Believed to be genetic and triggered by hormonal fluctuations and milestones of a woman’s life, such as puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, lipedema progresses in stages that result in acute, painful, lumpy fat, limited mobility, and weakened the quality of life. Unfortunately, even to this day, many women are still being misdiagnosed and maligned as being obese and excessive exercising, and extreme dieting doesn’t move the needle to reverse/improve their condition. Though there is still no definitive cure, the only viable, long-term treatment option is surgical intervention, specifically the signature MLE (Manual Lipedema Extraction) technique developed by Dr. Jamie Schwartz of Total Lipedema Care.
Standing Up for Those Living with Lipedema
For those living with the incurable, chronic fat deposition disorder, seeking a supportive network of friends and like-minded “lippies” is imperative to help manage the emotional toll the disease can take. Visiting your doctor/surgeon and undergoing regular treatments to help mitigate everyday pain, swelling, tenderness, and impending physical deformity while reducing the possibility of immobility is a lifelong, ongoing way of life for lipedema patients. As far as those who have a loved one with lipedema, there are several things you can do to make a huge, positive impact on their way of life. Donating to reputable, non-profit organizations, such as lipedema.net and lipedemaproject.net, is a great start. Not only do these tireless organizations seek to provide infinite ways of support through conferencing, meet-ups, and online interventions, they offer the latest news, technology, resources, and medical advancements that can help those living with lipedema lead as normal a life as possible. These groups are always on the cutting edge of disseminating the latest and greatest in increasing awareness of this chronic condition that is still considered a medical mystery by most accounts.
Getting Ahead of the Curve
If you think you may have early-stage lipedema, it’s crucial you visit a doctor or surgeon who specializes in treating fat-related disorders. This will significantly help you navigate your medical journey and help keep your condition from perilously progressing. Part autobiographical journey, part informative online resource, They’re Not Cankles (theyrenotcankles.com), has a flair for fun and hard-hitting humor geared specifically towards women with early-stage lipedema. Leading lipedema expert, fierce advocate, and renowned Beverly Hills-based plastic surgeon, Dr. Jamie Schwartz, has made guest blog appearances on the lippy-loving site, so it’s safe to say you’re in good hands. It’s definitely worth a visit, if even for the irreverent, delicious dialogue and bold, unapologetic play-by-play of the day-by-day of a real-life young lady living with lipedema.
How will you be raising lipedema awareness this June? Do you have any unique suggestions for those who can help spread the word that were not mentioned in this piece? Our lipedema community would love to hear your thoughts.
If you feel you may benefit from lipedema revision surgery and would like to book a consultation with Dr. Jamie to evaluate your current physical situation, as well as your medical and lipedema surgical history, be sure to contact our office to speak with any one of our compassionate, highly-knowledgeable staff members. We look forward to hearing from you and we’re always here to help.