I would like to share with you a topic that I recently researched for a final project as part of my Health and Sports Sciences curriculum. It’s about a condition that few physicians understand to date and it is called Lipedema, a disfiguring and debilitating condition affecting mostly women, characterized by an increase in fat storage in the lower half of the body, usually sparing the feet and sometimes occurring in the upper arms (Lerner/FACS, 1998). Physicians often misdiagnose this disorder as “obesity”, simply because they don’t know anything about it. But it is more common than we realize, affecting an estimated 17 million women in the U.S., causing debilitation and compromise to mobility as the disease progresses, due to pain, tenderness and increased swelling (“Lipedema Project,” n.d.). The one thing that should be understood about this disfiguring disorder, is that it has a heriditary tendency and that it is progressive (Omaira, Mehrotra, Fankhauser, Hrinczenko, & Dimitrov, 2015). So it’s not so simple as going on a diet and doing exercise to make it go away. People suffering from this condition (and I don’t use the word “suffering” lightly, because they are suffering greatly) have to go through very comprehensive and difficult treatment methods to manage it, including manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) and compression therapy using bandaging and stockings, as the most conservative means (Omaira, Mehrotra, Fankhauser, Hrinczenko, & Dimitrov, 2015). But when these treatments are not effective, it may become necessary to remove the increased fat tissue by surgery using liposuction techniques (Rapprich, Dingler, & Podda, 2010).
My research project has now turned into a mission to raise awareness in the hopes that others suffering from this disease can know that they are not alone. If you or someone you know suffers from this condition, contact me here on this blog. Also subscribe to the blog and feel free to share your story with our readers. I will be posting updates and news, so please stay tuned. Also, if anyone is interested in receiving a pdf copy of my research project, please send me an email. I am also adding a contact form to this post in case you wish to make your story anonymous and would like me to post it as such.
Lerner/FACS, R. (1998, June). Understanding Lipedema. National Lymphedema Network.
Lipedema Project. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.LipedemaProject.org
Omaira, M., Mehrotra, A., Fankhauser, M. J., Hrinczenko, B., & Dimitrov, N. V. (2015). Lipedema: a clinical challenge-revisited. British Journal of Medicine & Medical Research, 5(11), 1328-1337. doi:10.9737/BJMMR/2015/13894
Rapprich, S., Dingler, A., & Podda, M. (2010). Liposuction is an effective treatment for lipedema – results of a study with 25 patients. Journal of the German Society of Dermatology, 2010(8), 1-8. doi:10.1111/j.1610-0387.2010.07504.x