What is Lipedema?

"LIPEDEMA" (the words are  combined to describe a medical condition with fats and lymphatic fluids in abnormal accumulations)  It is progressive, often very painful, and depression is partnered with the disorder.   Lipedema in the immune system is an autoimmune disorder.   Additional stress is placed on an already compromised lymphatic system.  This accumulated non-metabolized fatty fluid is unsightly and causes deformational changes which are hard to hide.  It does not "go away" when diets are adhered to and exercise programs are faithfully followed.  It can and often does cause other serious medical problems.  Untreated it always gets worse.  The Fat Disorders Research Society and Lipedema Sisters USA are organizations which provide support to those seeking knowledge.   

A physician will  diagnosis lipedema.  Since this is a newly recognized disorder you will experience difficulty in finding physicians trained to recognize the many symptoms of lipedema. .  A Certified Lymphedema Therapist will provide health care therapy and train you in management of your medical condition.

If lipedema is classified as primary there is a congenital or hereditary abnormality in the body. 

If lipedema is classified as secondary then a known trauma to the system has occurred  after the removal of lymph nodes, radiation, other surgeries, infection, immobility, chronic venous insufficiencies (heart and circulatory problems) burns, trauma and/or morbid obesity.

Currently lipedema management consist of two phases. 

The FIRST PHASE is the most intensive.  It usually is of 2 to 3 weeks duration for upper extremities and 3 to 6 weeks for the lower body. You will have therapy 5 days a week.   Almost always long term health is defined in years of treatment and follow-up.  Measurements are taken of the edematous body parts for documentation.  Manual (hands on) therapy begins to move fatty lymph fluid in the first or second session.  It teaches awareness of your body as it is today. Compression garments may be prescribed to maintain the removal of/and prevent new accumulation of fatty fluid.  Skin that has experienced long term edema will lose its elasticity and need this compression for the remainder of life.  Be aware that your insurance probably will NOT cover most of these expenses.

Treatment protocol is always individually tailored to the need that exists.  With extreme cases the intensive decongestion phase may last more than six weeks and may have to be repeated several times.

THE SECOND PHASE is a transition from MLD/CDT by a certified therapist assisted manual drainage and compression care to, self managed manual lymph drainage and self compliance to wearing compression therapy garments and/or bandages.  

"CDT" (Complete Decongestive Therapy) is the use of and consistent wearing of compression clothing and/or short stretch bandages to maintain and complete support of the body after manual removal of fatty fluids.  it takes effort and consistency to see results.  It is unfamiliar, and at first may be uncomfortable. As the transportation of lipedema fluids becomes a routine of daily living the pressure and pain may lessen to a manageable level.

I have observed that it requires an hour a day of manual self care to decongest and maintain changes caused by lipedema.  

It saves you money if you learn to wear compression garments and  know how to keep them serviceable;  Being able to self  bandage when necessary; and exercising in an appropriate way is also money wise and health saving. 

It takes commitment to learn and study about lipedema and lipedema products, to return for follow-up decongestive therapy at the necessary intervals. Often for years or months if necessary to learn the maintenance of your body's lymphatics.  It means involving family and care givers so that they may assist in managing the life long consequences of lipedema.   It is a full time job but there are many rewards to well managed self care. 

Insurance is not going to cover your expenses.  I charge $80/hour for therapy.   I start and end on the therapeutic appointment hour.    I expect us to each give 24 hour notice of scheduling changes.  Missed appointment are still a financial obligation and will be billed.  This is a health profession relationship based on integrity and respect.