Fall has arrived and with the cold weather looming you may be wondering what you can eat that can be both fulfilling and anti-inflammatory for your lipedema. It’s easy to learn what you should and shouldn’t eat but sometimes hard to stick to it without the background knowledge of why. Knowing the why can help you make the best decisions for yourself and maybe incorporate some things that you may not have thought of before.   

Follow an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

It is recommended to follow the RAD diet (or Rare Adipose Disorder diet). The RAD diet is basically a modified Mediterranean diet that helps maintain a low glycemic index. The goal is to keep your insulin levels low by avoiding refined or processed starches and sugars that are found in pasta, rice, bread, corn, and potatoes. Avoiding processed carbs and processed food, in general, will help keep your inflammation at bay and in turn reduce your lipedema symptoms. Along with reducing starches, avoiding gluten(found in wheat, rye, and barley) all together may be necessary to limit flare-ups. 

For a healthy lipedema meal plan, you will want a nutrition plan that is high in omega 3’s. Mainstream health organizations recommend a minimum of 250-300 mg of omega-3s per day, the FDA recommends not to exceed 3000 mg of omega-3, but European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says up to 5000 mg of omega-3s per day is safe. 

Why Are Omega-3s so Important if You Have Lipedema 

Omega-3s reduce the production of some substances (eicosanoids and cytokines) released during an inflammatory response in the body, reducing inflammation will help reduce lipedema flare-ups. Some added bonuses of increasing your omega-3 consumption are; it may help fight auto-immune diseases, decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression, improve eye health, promote brain health during pregnancy, improve risk factors of heart disease, reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome, improve mental disorders, fight age-related mental decline, reduce fat in your liver, improve bone and joint health, alleviate menstrual pain, and improve sleep. 

Obviously incorporating more omega-3s into your diet will reduce inflammation and other symptoms that may arise from lipedema but what foods and supplements are best? Fish is high in omega-3s such as Mackerel (4,107mg per serving), salmon (4,123 mg per serving), herring (946mg per serving), oysters (370mg per serving-about 6 raw oysters), sardines(2,205mg per serving), anchovies(951 mg per serving), caviar(1,086 mg per serving). Now if you’re not crazy about fish, there are other options, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and soybeans all have a similar amount of omega-3s per serving to their fish counterparts. 

**It should be noted that soybeans are high in omega-6s which can cause inflammation so you may want to leave the soybeans out of your diet.

Along with omega-3s, there should be a heavy focus on fiber in your diet plan. It is recommended that men get 38 grams of fiber a day and women 25 grams of fiber per day. Fiber can be split into soluble fiber(metabolized by good bacteria in the gut, water-soluble) and insoluble fiber(does not dissolve in water). Fiber feeds the good gut bacteria and works with our bodies in symbiosis by breaking down what we cannot on our own. By consuming fiber, we are feeding our gut bacteria “prebiotics” which the bacteria break down to produce necessary nutrients, short-chain fatty acids. Short-chain fatty acids feed the cells in the colon which can reduce gut inflammation. Fiber is also a necessary element to help you feel full and stay full longer! Also, it slows down digestion by absorbing water and in turn, increases the number of vitamins and nutrients the body can absorb. 

Omega-3s and fiber are incredibly important to reduce lipedema inflammation but what does that mean for what you should eat? Think of the standard food pyramid, instead of the high consumption of grains, it’s recommended to consume high levels of low-carb vegetables, herbs, and spices, such as cabbage, eggplant, carrots, cauliflower, Bok choy, peppers, broccoli, cucumbers, asparagus, etc. Here are some herbs for an extra boost of anti-inflammatory action: ginger, garlic, turmeric(with black pepper for absorption), cardamom, green tea, rosemary, and cinnamon. 

Next on the pyramid, you should consume a smaller amount of healthy fats like nuts- Peanuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, avocados, coconut oil, and olive oil. Brazil nuts in particular have a large amount of selenium, a necessary nutrient that helps reduce the painful swelling that lipedema causes. It should be noted that only two brazil nuts a day can make a difference!

The next part of our pyramid is healthy protein. We’ve touched on a few fish for your omega-3s but you could also include eggs, chicken, turkey, tofu, shrimp, and tuna. Protein is another important component to help you feel full and stay full longer which helps reduce cravings. 

Lastly, we have lower-carb fruits, beans and legumes, and moderate-carb vegetables. Some lower-carb fruits include berries, melons, kiwis, mangos, and raisins. It is best to try to eat the rainbow! Each color has different nutrients and antioxidants necessary for a long-term healthy body and it’s much easier to track the colors you’re eating versus every nutrient each fruit/vegetable has in it. 

Patients with lipedema often have low levels of vitamin D3 so supplementing with four times the daily recommended dose of vitamin D is helpful along with Diosmin, and selenium if you are not able to eat brazil nuts. Fish and krill oil are great supplements to take on days you are not consuming high amounts of omega-3s

Now that we’ve covered food, what else can you do to keep lipedema symptoms aways?  There are multiple ways to keep your lymphatic fluids flowing such as yoga, dry brushing, massage, and compression garments. 

Yoga & Deep Breathing

Yoga is all around great for your whole body by lengthening, strengthening, and deep breathing, it can improve your health and mental wellbeing. Lymphatic yoga is even better for lipedema! Lymphatic Yoga can help move the stagnant fluid in the lymph system through the body and to the heart. Dynamic yoga such as sun salutations is great because it keeps you moving from one pose to another and encourages the movement of fluids. Any inversion poses and backbends will help fight gravity that keeps fluids in the lower part of your body from moving to the upper parts. Twists help with stimulating organs and stretching the spine. 

The lymphatic system lies just below the surface of the skin so dry brushing has been shown to stimulate the lymph system and help move venous blood. Dry brushing should be done with long firm strokes towards the heart. Start from your feet to the legs and groin and then hand to your armpits. An added bonus is your skin will be exfoliated and feel amazing! 

Massage & Deep Breathing

Lymphatic massage is a great way to reduce swelling and improve lymphatic circulation. You can go to a professional massage therapist who specializes in lymphatic massage or you can learn how to do it on yourself at home! When performing these techniques you should make sure you are relaxed, don’t perform this if it is too painful, and it should only affect your skin, so deep pressure is not needed.

Start by connecting to your deep breaths, slowly inhaling from your nose and out through the mouth. Try to make these breaths as long as possible with a pause between each breath. Like the dry brushing, you start from your feet and pull the skin up towards your heart with light pressure, so the skin stretches. Continue this all around the ankles, then calves and thighs. 

Compression

Last but not least, you can use compression garments! Luckily it will be getting colder so it won’t feel so hot and restricting to adding in an extra layer of clothes. It is best to use medical-grade garments because fluid flows from higher pressure to lower pressure and medical-grade compression garments have graduated compression. The compression at the lower part of the garment will force lymphatic fluid from the lower part of your body up through your body back towards your heart. Again, we’re fighting gravity so compression garments will need to be tighter for the legs versus your arms.

You Got This

Now you have all the options to keep your lipedema symptoms low over the winter months, from eating the rainbow to yoga, massage, and compression garments. It’s a difficult disease to battle but you’re not alone, and now you have a few extra tools that can help you along the way. Contact us today!

There’s nothing more satisfying and exciting for Dr. Wright and his team at Laser Lipo & Vein Center than celebrating patient wins! One of our favorite patients, Rita, spent her time in quarantine focused on getting through her lipedema surgeries, recovering safely at home, and both she and our team couldn’t be happier with her results! Rita’s experience is proof that Lipedema surgery can transform patient experiences as they walk through life (literally!) from pain and immobility to pain-free progress! 

lipedema surgery

Rita has undergone three Lipedema surgeries on her legs and has seen dramatically positive results. She’s continued to follow a generally healthy diet both before and after her surgeries but did not implement any form of diet changes, so these results are primarily the outcome of her lipedema surgeries! She’s gone from a size 24 to a size 14 in jean size, lost 30 pounds, and is now more easily active and mobile day-in and day-out. 

There are so many day-to-day activities that those without Lipedema wouldn’t think twice about, but patients with Lipedema struggle with and dread. Post-surgery, Rita has reported back to our office that after losing 10 pants sizes and removing the irregular lipedema fat in her lower body, she has no problems fitting into those frustrating chairs with arms on either side, she has enjoyed walking around the amusement park with her 10-year-old daughter without having to take breaks, and overall has enjoyed her active lifestyle, without the pain that used to accompany it! 
lipedema surgery

What is Lipedema?

Lipedema is a subcutaneous fat disease that primarily affects women. When we reference the “subcutaneous” tissue and fat, we’re referencing the layer of tissue directly under the skin. 

Shockingly, Lipedema affects an estimated 17 million women across the globe. This disease affects a huge number of women, the majority of whom are still walking through their world in a lot of physical and mental pain. Lipedema is a disease that leads to the excessive build-up of fat cells, primarily in the arms and legs. Women suffering from it often have “pockets” of fat on their limbs that appear disproportionate in comparison to the rest of their bodies. This disease causes an enlargement of the legs due to deposits of fat under the skin, and typically gets worse over time, making diagnosis and treatment essential.

It’s common for women with Lipedema to have a small upper body, while their lower body is disproportionately larger (kind of like an extreme pear-shaped body). Pockets of fat develop in the affected areas and appear to bulge in and out of the top layer of the skin. This is often mischaracterized as cellulite, rather than painful lipomas.

These pockets of Lipedema fat are accompanied by painful symptoms, such as excessive swelling, pain to the touch, numbness, and very easy bruising. If my dog jumped up on my legs, it was excruciating. Everyday occurrences that most people don’t think twice about, like accidentally bumping into a table or chair, can cause deep, painful bruises. 

lipedema surgery

As Lipedema progresses over time, these symptoms will continue to get worse as more Lipedema fat accumulates, and many women report that they are less and less mobile or active as time goes on. As a result, these women are stuck in a terrible cycle; they are less mobile, so they often gain weight, then it’s even more difficult and painful to be active, and the cycle goes on and on.

With Lipedema, we experience fat accumulation in specific areas, which may help indicate if your weight gain is normal or not. If you’re gaining pockets of fat that are out of proportion to other areas, this may be a tip-off that you have Lipedema.

While many women also see weight gain in their arms, it’s common that the following areas are greatly affected:

lipedema surgery

What Causes Lipedema?

We know that Lipedema is inherited in about 60% of women, and early studies show a genetic component is definitely at play (read more about that here!) and is the result of a malfunction of the Lymphatic System. The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste, and other unwanted materials. This system transports lymph fluid throughout the body and is important for maintaining a healthy immune system. This disease affects the lymphatic system’s tiny vessels (microvessels) that cause a build-up of excess fluid around the body’s tissue cells. These tissue cells (located in the subcutaneous layers we discussed above) are then full of excess fluid, causing the swelling, soreness, bruising, and pain that many women with Lipedema report.

As researchers continue to gain understanding and genetic proof of Lipedema and differentiate it genetically from other diseases that they’re commonly misdiagnosed with, it will only become easier for women with Lipedema to get a proper diagnosis. Then, as the disease is more widely known and understood, treatments will become better and better, it will be more difficult for insurance providers to refuse coverage for treatments. Hopefully from there, more doctors will be trained in treating women with Lipedema properly, so treatments will become more accessible across the country! Read more about the first-ever Standard of Care Guidelines for Lipedema here!

How do you treat Lipedema?

There are two categories of treatment, surgical and non-surgical. Insurance providers require patients first try non-surgical treatment options before they’ll consider approving lipedema surgery, and Lipedema providers should be able to walk patients through this. While Lymph-sparing liposuction is the only treatment option that can provide permanent results by removing the lipedema fat, non-surgical options can help slow progression and are also necessary post-surgery (so it’s still important to practice them!).

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

To the dismay of patients, wearing medical-grade, tight compression garments 24-hours per day, seven days per week, is the key to improve circulation for the lymphatic system, making this a go-to prescription from Lipedema experts. Compression garments come in a variety of strengths and will be prescribed based on the stage and type of affected areas. The tighter the compression, the better.

A healthy and consistent lifestyle of clean eating and low-impact exercise to address obesity will also help with Lipedema. A diet focused on low-carb and low-sugar has proven successful. Low-impact exercise such as walking, water aerobics, yoga, or gymnastics has also reported success. Patients must avoid yo-yo dieting while also permanently losing or, at the very least, maintaining their weight. What works for one patient may not work for another. Diet and exercise recommendations and healthy practices are essential, but ultimately should be based on the individual with the understanding that weight gain is not an option. 

Some patients opt-in to Manual Lymph Drainage massage (MLD), a gentle skin massage used to stimulate the circulation of the lymphatic system. While experts have yet to find significant evidence that MLD helps with Lipedema directly, some patients prefer it for its “hands-on” nature to addressing their symptoms.

Lymph-Sparing Liposuction for Lipedema

For patients in the later stages of Lipedema, the pain and disruption to daily life are not permanently addressed with compression garments, diet, and exercise alone. Traditional liposuction that uses general anesthesia, radio frequencies, ultrasound, or lasers are possibly damaging to the lymphatic vessels, and as such are not an option for Lipedema patients, either. However, Lymph-sparing liposuction is safe, using surgical techniques that avoid lymphatic injury, and the use of local tumescent anesthesia reduces the risk of complications. Generally, the most painful areas should be treated first, starting high on the legs and then moving downward in future surgeries.

lipedema surgery

Start Your Life-Changing Journey 

Even with all the challenges presented by lipedema, there are those who you can trust. Dr. Wright continues to strive for better education, research, and coverage for the lipedema community. Do not let these challenges bring you down even further; let Dr. Wright and his expert team help you to reduce the symptoms of lipedema and live your life fully! Dr. Wright can help find the right procedure to help manage your lipedema symptoms. Don’t let lipedema take over your life; contact us today!

Hello to everybody! My name is Cat, and I’m a patient of Dr. Wrights, and a writer and content creation in the Women’s Health space. Dr. Wright and I work closely together, and I’ve put together some helpful information to give you the high points of the Lipedema treatment journey.

Everything You Need To Know About Lipedema, from 1 Lippy Lady to Another

For the first 29 years of my life, I walked through the world with the bitter understanding that I would never have a body I could be proud of. I became resolved to the fact that even though I live in Austin, Texas, where we average 300 days of sunshine and 8 months of 90-100 degree heat, shorts would never be a comfortable option for me. And in the few months of cold, boots over my shins were out of the question. What a cruel joke, right? In the summers I’m too hot, and in the winters I’m too cold.

After decades of rigorous diet and exercise, strict calorie counting, and perfect attendance at my accountability groups, I was at a complete loss. How could my body take me across the finish line of a half marathon, yet it couldn’t shed a single pound through my training? And how are my legs and butt this outrageous? Sure, there are perks to a body shape that most people envy, but only at the cost of extreme self-consciousness, depression, and intense leg pain and bruising. And how can every diet I try have absolutely zero permanent effects on my weight? Is that even scientifically possible? As it turns out – it is. Below is me in Dr. Wright’s office for my original diagnosis. I flew in for a morning appointment and flew home that night. What a whirlwind!

Photograph of one of Dr. Wrights clients

If you’ve made it to this website, I’m so happy you’re here! This means you’ve magically stumbled upon the answers that our doctors never told us – maybe they didn’t know, maybe they didn’t care to know, or maybe they were blinded by their very typical diagnosis of obesity (or lymphedema, or venous insufficiency, or some other incorrect thing). But as we dig into Lipedema and everything you need to know about it, I welcome you with a virtual hug, and I encourage you to take a moment to celebrate.
You are not crazy.
You are not simply ‘obese’.
It’s not your fault.
You are not alone.
And if knowledge is power, my dear friend, you are about to be the most powerful you’ve ever been!

What is Lipedema?

Evil.
And a subcutaneous fat disease that primarily affects women. When we reference the ‘subcutaneous” tissue and fat, we’re referencing the layer of tissue directly under the skin.

Diagram of Skin Structure

Shockingly, Lipedema affects an estimated 17 million women across the globe. When I said you weren’t alone, I wasn’t kidding! This disease affects a huge number of women, the majority of whom are still walking through their world the way I was walking through mine: lost, sad, and in a lot of physical and mental pain. Lipedema is a disease that leads to the excessive build-up of fat cells, primarily in the arms and legs. Women suffering from it often have “pockets” of fat on their limbs that appear disproportionate in comparison to the rest of their body. This disease causes an enlargement of the legs due to deposits of fat under the skin, and typically gets worse over time, making diagnosis and treatment essential.

3 Stages of Lipedeman Infographic

I personally had an extremely tiny waist, wore a size small top, and XL or XXL bottoms. My arms were mostly unaffected until my late 20s, but my legs were large, heavy, and totally disproportionate from the time I was 12 years old. What 12-year-old has already developed a pear-shaped body? Lipedema 12-year-olds, unfortunately. Pockets of fat developed in my legs and appeared to bulge in and out. The fatty bulges that I used to think were just extremely bad cellulite were actually pockets of Lipedema fat all over my thighs.

These pockets of Lipedema fat are accompanied by painful symptoms, such as excessive swelling, pain, numbness, and very easy bruising. If my dog jumped up on my legs, it was excruciating. If I bumped my hip into the side of a table, I knew I’d wake up with a deep, painful bruise the next day. As Lipedema progresses over time, these symptoms will continue to get worse as more Lipedema fat accumulates, and many women report that they are less and less mobile or active as time goes on. As a result, these women are stuck in a terrible cycle; they are less mobile, so they often gain weight, then it’s even more difficult and painful to be active, and the cycle goes on and on.

With Lipedema, we experience fat accumulation in specific areas, which may help indicate if your weight gain is normal or not. If you’re gaining pockets of fat that are out of proportion to other areas, this may be a tip-off that you have Lipedema.

Photo of lipedema on calves

While many women also see weight gain in their arms, it’s common that the following areas are greatly affected:

What Causes Lipedema?

This is where things start to get really exciting. It was only in mid-2019 that my research brought me to Lipedema, and at the time of my first surgery to treat it (in December 2019), there was still very little known about the causes. Experts in the field had hypothesized that the disease was hormonal in nature and very likely had a genetic component, but research was still too early to tell. But for all the doom and gloom 2020 has brought the world, we’ve also seen some really big and exciting movement in understanding the cause of this enigmatic disease.

We know that Lipedema is inherited in about 60% of women, likely through genetics, and is the result of a malfunction of the Lymphatic System. The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste, and other unwanted materials. This system transports lymph fluid throughout the body and is important for maintaining a healthy immune system. This disease affects the lymphatic system’s tiny vessels (microvessels) that cause a build-up of excess fluid around the body’s tissue cells. These tissue cells (located in the subcutaneous layers we discussed above) are then full of excess fluid, causing the swelling, soreness, bruising, and pain that many women with Lipedema report.

Infographic displaying Conditions Like Lipedema

Researchers now also have evidence that suggests there are specific biomarkers of this specific lymphatic malfunction that will provide medical providers a way to recognize – in our DNA – the differences between lymphedema, lipedema, obesity, and other potential lymphatic diseases.

But why is that so exciting? Just because we know what causes it doesn’t make it hurt less, right? Well, that’s kind of true, but kind of not! As researchers continue to gain understanding and genetic proof of Lipedema and differentiate it genetically from other diseases that we’re commonly misdiagnosed with, it will only become easier for women with Lipedema to get a proper diagnosis. Then, as the disease is more widely known and understood, treatments will become better and better, it will be more difficult for insurance providers to refuse coverage for treatments. Hopefully from there, more doctors will be trained in treating women with Lipedema properly, so treatments will become more accessible across the country!

While it’s true that the disease itself is still painful and terrible, getting the research out there will allow for a much earlier diagnosis than women with Lipedema are used to. While I’m frustrated that it took me 30 years to get a diagnosis, I’m actually one of the lucky ones. Most women aren’t diagnosed until much later in life, well into their 50s, 60s, and even 70s. This advancement could be the beginning of the end for that trend!

How do you treat Lipedema?

There are two categories of treatment, surgical and non-surgical. During my first visit to Dr. Wright’s office after being officially diagnosed, we first put a non-surgical treatment plan together so that I could start it right away. After that, we went through my surgical treatment plan because I was already in an advanced stage. Today, I’ve completed 2 of my 5 scheduled surgeries, with a delay thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m so grateful that we went through both treatment plans because I am now back to practicing my non-surgical treatments while I wait for my next surgery. Both are necessary, especially because Lipedema is a progressive disease! Even after my surgeries are complete, I’ll be continuing with the non-surgical practices for the rest of my life. Below is one of the first full body photos I’ve ever taken of myself, shortly after healing from my 2nd surgery.

Post surgery photo of a client

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

To the dismay of patients, wearing medical-grade, tight compression garments 24-hours per day, seven days per week, is the key to improve circulation for the lymphatic system, making this a go-to prescription from Lipedema experts. Compression garments come in a variety of strengths and will be prescribed based on the stage and type of affected areas. The tighter the compression, the better.

A healthy and consistent lifestyle of clean eating and low-impact exercise to address obesity will also help with Lipedema. A diet focused on low-carb and low-sugar has proven successful. Low-impact exercise such as walking, water aerobics, yoga, or gymnastics has also reported success. Patients must avoid yo-yo dieting while also permanently losing or, at the very least, maintaining their weight. What works for one patient may not work for another. Diet and exercise recommendations and healthy practices are essential, but ultimately should be based on the individual with the understanding that weight gain is not an option.

Some patients opt-in to Manual Lymph Drainage massage (MLD), a gentle skin massage used to stimulate the circulation of the lymphatic system. While experts have yet to find significant evidence that MLD helps with Lipedema directly, some patients prefer it for its “hands-on” nature to addressing their symptoms.

Lymph-Sparing Liposuction for Lipedema

For patients in the later stages of Lipedema, the pain and disruption to daily life are not permanently addressed with compression garments, diet, and exercise alone. Traditional liposuction that uses general anesthesia, radio frequencies, ultrasound, or lasers are possibly damaging to the lymphatic vessels, and as such are not an option for Lipedema patients, either. However, Lymph-sparing liposuction is safe, using surgical techniques that avoid lymphatic injury, and the use of local tumescent anesthesia reduces the risk of complications. Generally, the most painful areas should be treated first, starting high on the legs and then moving downward in future surgeries.

Infographic about treating Lipedema

How Do I Start Getting Treatment for Lipedema?

I can confidently say that you’ve already done the most difficult part of this Lipedema journey – you lived with it without any answers! Now, it’s time to work on getting a formal diagnosis and working with your medical provider on what plans and timeline will work best for you. Review our 4-Step Guide to Getting a Lipedema Diagnosis, and as always, reach out to Dr. Wright if you have any questions! His website is a wealth of resources and knowledge, and he’s truly passionate about furthering the treatment and research to help women like us (I speak from experience!).

Infographic of the 4 Steps to a Lipedema Diagnosis

Lipedema continues to be a poorly identified condition where diagnoses are often avoided by US physicians. Identifying lipedema involves a clinical evaluation from a medical physician with expert knowledge regarding this condition. Two factors that are critical in finding a proper lipedema diagnosis include identifying an abnormal fat deposition in impacted areas and identifying symptoms of lipedema.

Obesity vs Abnormal Fat Accumulation

Far too often Lipedema is misdiagnosed as obesity. The abnormal fat deposition of lipedema is very different from obesity. Individuals with lipedema typically accumulate disproportionate fat in soft tissue just below the skin on the arm and legs. Individuals with obesity typically see a proportional increase of fat issue around the body but it is more concentrated inside the abdomen, called visceral fat. Individuals with lipedema will instead see a much greater fat accumulation be around extremities and not the abdomen which is described as disproportionate when compared to the rest of the body.

Lipedema can be identified with five different types of the condition depending on where the fat tissue is found predominantly. Type I identifies lipedema with fat pockets around the buttocks. Type II identifies lipedema with fat around the hips and thighs in addition to the buttocks. Type III identifies fat tissue around the calves, ankles, and thighs. Type IV identifies lipedema with pockets of fat tissue on the arms while Type V is lipedema with fat tissue found exclusively on the calves and ankles.

Symptoms of Lipedema

It helps to properly identify lipedema by recognizing many of its common symptoms. Individuals who have been properly diagnoses often have tender skin that is sensitive to walking and pressure. Limbs affected by lipedema appear to be “fluffy” and have a rubbery feel to them. The skin tissue will eventually harden and feel like beans in a bag. Skin tissue will also lose elasticity and become uneven. The overall temperature of the skin will cool. Your legs will begin to feel heavy and lead to overall fatigue. Individuals with a newer development of lipedema will see that swelling will be frequent during the day and subside at night. Individuals who have been dealing with lipedema for years will notice that the swelling will progress at later stages. Finally, individuals with lipedema will also notice visible veins under the skin on impacted limbs and will bruise easily.

Seek Your Proper Treatment

Properly identifying symptoms of lipedema and observing abnormal fat distribution will help with diagnosing this condition. Physicians now use tests to help with their diagnoses such as venous Doppler ultrasound and lymphoscintigraphy. Additional research will help with properly identifying lipedema from obesity and other fat-related conditions. Contact us for your proper lipedema diagnosis.

Lipedema and Lymphedema Webinar: Mythbusting and Case Controversies
 
Join this lively and interactive discussion with Dr. Wright and other experts!
 
Jun 11, 2020 08:00 PM
 

When dealing with the effects of lipedema, your body can also feel the repercussions of direct impact to your lymphatic and venous circulation system. Both systems together help the body create lymph. Venous disorders like venous hypertension and venous reflux impact these combined systems to create excess lymph production. Having an overwhelmed production can lead to overloaded lymphatic circulation. Both the venous system and our lymphatic circulation utilize passive contractions to clear this fluid from our limbs.

Lymphatic Issues Occurring with Lipedema

Our lymphatic system has several key jobs to help our body function properly. First, it drains our body cells of any debris that needs to be removed. It also drains any excess fluid our tissues have built up. The lymphatic system also transports any clean fluid back to our blood that needs it. With such an important job for our body, it is critical to understand how lipedema can cause additional lymphatic issues. Individuals with lipedema will notice that their lymph fluids are not properly draining, causing buildup in the legs. This fluid building can be painful and cause additional swelling.

Venous Issues Occurring with Lipedema

Our venous system is made up of deep venous pumps and veins located throughout the legs. These pumps when properly working pump 90% of the blood from the legs. The other 10% of the blood is pumped through a superficial venous system. While this system is typically less important than the deep venous pumps, they are at more risk when lipedema is involved. Blood flow may reverse and flow in the opposite direction; healthy vein valves ensure our blood is flowing in one direction for a healthy system.

Treating Vein Issues

Vein insufficiency and other venous issues can cause your lipedema symptoms to worsen over time. Significant vein insufficiency can cause venous issues that are not superficial such as ulcers. If you are looking into surgical treatment for lipedema, you will need your vein issues to be treated first. Vein issues can cause problems during surgery if blood flow is not working correctly. It can also lead to poor wound healing after the procedure has been completed. The increased risk of blood clots is one factor any surgeon will want to avoid.

Receive Your Vein Evaluation Today

Prepare for your lipedema treatment by first seeking out a vein evaluation. A healthy venous system is needed to successfully complete any procedures associated with lipedema. Contact us now!

Living with lipedema and lymphedema can be difficult and impose limitations of your daily life. These disorders stem from impaired lymphatic systems that are unable to have proper drainage that in turn create difficult symptoms to live with. You may know that lipedema mostly impacts the legs and bottom half of the body due to this lymphatic system impairment. Fortunately, symptoms of both lipedema and lymphedema can be treated with a variety of relief methods. More severe symptoms can be targeted with complete decongestive therapy, also known as CDT. This incredible technique allows physicians to improve lymph fluid drainage through a variety of factors.

What is CDT – Complete Decongestive Therapy?

As the name implies, CDT is a form of decongestive therapy that will help alleviate your symptoms of lipedema and lymphedema. CDT uses a variety of therapy techniques that will help create lymph drainage. This allows your lymphatic system to be properly drained and get rid of any buildup. This fluid buildup is effectively creating the difficult symptoms of your condition. The actual lymph drainage massage is conducted through various exercises and stretches. This allows each patient to be more flexible and naturally moves fluid around in the body. Compression garments are also used; when worn, they can help prevent lymph fluid from building up again. These compression garments are available in a variety of grades and can be tailored to your individual needs.

How Effective Is It?

While the efficacy of CDT can vary per patient it is typically very effective in dealing with a variety of symptoms related to lipedema and lymphedema. Most pronounced cases have seen weight loss of 110 pounds and reduced the volume of liquid in the patient’s legs by 40%. CDT can be even more effective been paired with additional treatments for a Complete Decongestive Therapy. CDT can even help those with generalized edema and lipo-lipedema. Most patients can have their swelling and pain reduced and increase the strength of their capillaries. CDT is not the most effective treatment when the patient is not experiencing swelling as one of the symptoms for lipedema or lymphedema.

Seek Out Your Personal Consultation

Seeking out treatment today can help you reduce your symptoms of lipedema. Complete Decongestive Therapy is available from many cosmetic physicians including our own Dr. Wright. Free consultations are typically available and can help you better understand your potential treatment plan. Contact us today!

We miss you and can’t wait to see you again soon…

We would like to take this opportunity to provide an update on how we will proceed with seeing patients.  First, it is important to understand that while St. Charles County has authorized the re-opening of most businesses, this is not a green light to go back to “business and usual” and disregard safety measures such as observing social distancing rules, staying six feet apart, wearing a mask, hand washing, and other safety protocols.

Our plan is to resume patient care cautiously by following state and local municipality regulations, and St. Charles County Health Department requirements.  We are also following the recommendations of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), AMA (American Medical Association) and the guidance from the  AVLS (American Venous and Lymphatic Society), ACCS (American College of Cosmetic Surgeons), and ACP (American College of Physicians).   

Dr. Wright continues to receive updates several times a day from BJC, SSM, and Mercy Hospital Systems and he is watching for a consecutive fourteen day decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in St. Charles County, St. Louis County, and the City of St. Louis to determine when it will be safe to resume cosmetic and aesthetic appointments.

We are very confident in our ability to offer our patients lipedema treatment in a tightly controlled medical office and surgery center, where our safety protocols to protect our patients and staff far exceed those in a salon, day spa or med spa without onsite medical supervision.  Because we limit the number of surgical procedures performed each day in our private surgery center, we are able to provide the highest level of safety which far exceeds standards in other surgery centers that see 10+ patients per day.    

We will begin seeing cosmetic surgical patients the week of May 18 and phase in some cosmetic vein patients as our schedule and staffing allows.  We understand your eagerness to resume aesthetic and cosmetic treatments; however, most of these procedures (microdermabrasion, IPL,  injectables and fillers) involve treating the face, which makes these treatments extremely dangerous for our staff to perform and the patient receiving the treatment due to the close proximity required to perform these treatments.    We will resume these treatments when staff members that perform them feel it is safe for them to do so or as Dr. Wright’s schedule allows (injectables and fillers).

To maintain the six-foot social distancing requirements, we will be scheduling staff to work on certain days and limiting the number of in-office appointments each day.  We will only schedule certain types of appointments on specific days.  We will also not overlap appointment times so that patients do not come in contact with other patients.  We will be prioritizing patients that had appointments in March, April, and May based on the type of appointment and treatment.  We will continue to offer patients virtual appointments for consultations and some medical appointments.

For the foreseeable future, we have initiated the following additional precautions for patients coming into the office.

come to the office If you are experiencing any cold or flu-like symptoms, if you have been exposed to anyone that has symptoms or has been diagnosed with COVID-19.  Symptoms include:

call the office (636-397-4012) and let us know that you have arrived.  We will ask you some screening questions and a staff member will meet you at the building entrance for a temperature check.  If you have a temperature over 100° or if we observe symptoms that are of concern, you will not be allowed in the office for your visit.

Still unsure if you have Lipedema? Worried about all the unknowns of seeking treatment? You’re not alone! Meet Cat, one of the numerous women with lipedema, Dr. Wright’s patient who travels from Austin, Texas to St. Louis to complete her five scheduled lipedema surgeries. Cat is a writer, a women’s health advocate, and has a passion for documenting her journey and helping other women through it. As long as she can remember, Cat has struggled with her weight. She was never considered an obese child or teen, was active in sports from a young age, and trained and ran half marathons as an adult. Still, though, she found herself struggling with her weight and living with debilitating pain. She spent her summers avoiding the outdoors (because that meant she had to wear shorts or be miserable), never participated in beach or pool trips, and lived a daily struggle of physical and emotional pain. 

Not knowing any different, her family explained her issues away, helplessly insisting that she naturally had a “pear body shape”, which ran in her family. She bruised constantly, which was diagnosed as anemia. While she is slightly anemic, Cat has reported that her bruising and painful-to-the touch legs have improved drastically after only two surgeries on her lower body. After years of doctors telling her she was overweight and needed to continue to cut down her calories, Cat was at a loss. Below are her experiences, which she’ll continue to update through the remaining surgeries and recovery process.

Lipedema Ruined & Saved This Fat Girl’s Life

In her first blog post related to Lipedema, Cat writes of her journey towards diagnoses, which ultimately led her to Dr. Wright’s office in 2019.

When the Solution is More Painful Than the Problem

After her initial consultation and diagnosis, Dr. Wright and his team put a treatment plan together for Cat. Her first surgery was in December 2019, and this article outlines what she experienced before, during, and after treatment.

Stay tuned for more! Cat recently completed her 2nd surgery on her upper legs and will be reporting back to detail her experiences. Lipedema is estimated to affect 10% of all women across the world – you’re far from alone, and we’re here to help you through this process to a more fulfilling, healthy, and pain-free life. 

In this blog, Cat K shares her real-life experience with lymph sparing liposuction to treat her lipedema.

When the Solution is More Painful Than the Problem

My first Lipedema surgery was at the end of 2019. For weeks after, I did not open my laptop, except the occasional Netflix in bed. To say I was underprepared for the pain and disruption that came with this surgery does not do my folly justice. I was both overly confident and naive. Stubborn and headstrong. And ultimately, humbled and overcome. It stripped me of my desire and motivation to write and document the journey. Quite frankly, it tore me of nearly everything other than pushing through to wake up, muster enough energy to smile at work, and to get home, immediately ready for bed.

Pain is one thing, and overall, I’m able to deal with it. It’s temporary, and a natural partner to any surgical procedure. I anticipated the physical pain, but what I didn’t expect was how long it would linger, and how much it would affect my life in every tiny moment. When I need lip balm, water, or a tissue, the stretch aches. When my feet are cold and I need to put on socks, putting them on myself is out of the question.

Get yourself a friend like mine. Livia drove from Chicago to St. Louis to care for me, including putting my socks on for me, despite my protests that I could handle it on my own.

Perhaps more intimately, going to the bathroom. My god, what kind of torture are compression leggings at 2 AM, and all you can do is think of waterfalls and dripping sinks and rainstorms. Oh, and you also should be sure to drink as much water as physically possible, to help with the swelling. WTF.

While we’re on the topic, what kind of hell are compression garments?

Compression garments (def.): Adult-size Spanx shrunk to the size of a toddler’s leggings, which you must pull up and over your bruised, swollen legs. Then figure out how to take them on and off when you need to use the toilet.

One-month post-surgery and this single piece of clothing is still a pain in my ass — literally. I’m back to driving, I’m back to work, and I can even switch to just one layer of compression (instead of two) when I sleep. Yet by 2 PM, I’m sitting at my desk, struggling to breathe because the pantyhose layer is so tight on my stomach.

When I stand up to stretch, the back of the hose hugs my legs so tight that I have dark red rings around my knees and ankles. In all honesty, today, I gave up. I took off the pantyhose layer in the office bathroom, but I took them off so quickly and had a strong enough head rush that I almost passed out. In the work bathroom. Pants-less.

Bruised and discolored legs and one of many insertion points.

On the bright side, the ridiculousness of my bathroom stupor made me laugh and re-center. The journey has been painful, the solution is painful, and the freedom yet to come will be worth it. Until then, I’m dedicated to sharing the ugly truths and brilliant successes with those who are looking for answers. Or even for those who are just curious; It’s gross and fascinating.

The Lipedema Surgery

  1. I’m traveling from Austin to St. Louis for all five procedures. I arrive the day before surgery for pre-opt (weigh-in, before photos, measurements, etc.). I take it easy the day before surgery and start taking pain medications before bed. These make me tired, but not terribly so.
  2. The morning of surgery, I wake up at 6:30 AM for a light breakfast. I have dry toast and cereal with non-dairy milk. Then I take additional pain medications. Surgery is at 8:30, so I go back to bed for a nap before heading to the office.
  3. Upon arrival, the doctor gives me more meds. I strip down — modesty has no place in these surgeries — and head into the surgery room. Almost immediately upon getting situated, the nurses show me how to use the laughing gas. Like a rookie, I tell them I’ll proceed without it. My friends, DO NOT MAKE THIS MISTAKE.
  4. Now it’s time to get hole-punched. The nurses quickly push lidocaine-infused needles all around my legs, then plug the needle holes with tiny tubes. After I’ve gotten enough holes added, they hook up the tubes to IV-size bags of tumescent liquid. I had five bags of this pumped into my legs to loosen up the fat and numb me. Please note, I was not numbed as the fluid went in. It hurt. Luckily there were enough drugs to feel the pain but not care all that much. It would’ve been even better if I had the laughing gas. After the five bags are done, my legs are rock-hard.
  5. After I’m successfully full of tumescent, the doctor is ready to suck out all the fat, cysts, and excess liquid. And boy did he — 9,000 ml worth.

The tiny holes previously used for the tubes are repurposed for the small suction wand. For the next several hours, I watched the doctor push the rod around and suck out a mix of fat, liquid, and blood.

  1. That’s it. The nurses clean me off, give me my shirt back, and then help me get into the two layers of compression, the first layer being pantyhose and the second layer medical-grade compression leggings. I was later released to my caretaker and friend until post-op the next day.

The Recovery

This brings me back to the beginning: recovery sucks. The first two nights were particularly tough to get through, for three main reasons.

  1. My puncture holes leak everywhere. The tumescent liquid is still leaking, and now there’s blood. I have padding, but it soaks through. I got absorbent pads from the hotel, but I still leak all over their bedding.
  2. Going to the bathroom. Rolling compression up and down the legs is another circle of hell.
  3. The first shower. Instructions were to wait until Day 2. I was to take off one layer at a time, waiting at least ten minutes in between. And boy, did I not have a choice. After removing layer two, I did end up kneeling on the bathroom floor, pants-less. I then had to take a 20-minute rest before I could proceed.

Like the naive, hard-headed person I am, I had a post-op appointment the day after surgery and then proceeded to the airport to fly home. I cannot begin to tell you what a mistake this was. I needed wheelchair assistance through security and to the plane, and then from the plane to my sister picking me up. Pro-tip, even if it should be obvious:

Listen to the professionals. Don’t travel home the day after surgery, when you’re in pain and oozing fluid.

Fast forward one month, and I’m sitting on my couch, no longer leaking fluid. I can drive again, I can put on my socks, and I’ve gotten my average time to get dressed down to about 15 minutes. I’ve lost 26 pounds, specifically from my inner thighs and knees. I don’t have full feeling in my legs just yet, but I can walk almost normally, stretch carefully, and next week I plan to return to yoga.

For all the pain, cursing, and moments of regret when I couldn’t get my compression hose over my butt, I’ve stuck to the schedule and am ready for the next procedure. Despite the solution feeling more painful and desperate than the Lipedema itself, I see small pieces of progress each day, signaling that I’m on the right track. After a lifetime of chronic pain and disappointment, I consider this a win.

If you’re curious about Lipedema and think you might have it, you can read more about my journey before diagnosis here. If you’re interested in learning more from my doctor and his incredible team, visit Dr. Wright’s website here.