Liposuction for lipedema is currently on everyone's lips. Health Minister Spahn, the GBA and various instances of the network are working on making the operational measures for cash benefits. It is important to finally establish a fair basis for liposuction as an equivalent pillar of lipedema therapy. However, I have the impression that these interventions are viewed too uncritically and also romanticized. After all, these are repeated massive interventions that not only involve physical risks.
Lipedema patients are lucky that liposuction is available as a symptom treatment. For lymphatic patients, the Microsurgery Researched for operational possibilities, but the results currently do not offer any reason for euphoria.
Euphoria is just the right keyword. For some years now, the lipedema community has been very much calibrated to the surgical measure and hope for freedom from symptoms. Surgeons and their results are compared, costs are fought for or saved from the mouth and often everything in terms of physical and psychological well-being is made dependent on it.
Now just imagine: You have had an operation, have invested all of this and find that you have not become symptom-free afterwards. Welcome in my life.
Keep a cool head
I am often very cautious about how I express myself. The suffering of many of our fellow campaigners is great and this makes them vehemently hold on to this incontestable ray of hope.
"Thinner arms and legs, relief, less pain, no more therapeutic measures necessary."
The practicing surgeons propagate this and sometimes even negligently speak of healing. Sometimes figures from their own practice are presented that promise a fantastic success rate. With every argument in favor of liposuction, the expectations of personal surgical success rise and rise, and with it the height of the fall, should the result not match them.
Are you considering having an operation? Then I would like to give you valuable and thoughtful advice on the way:
Approach this matter as skeptically and soberly as you can possibly be. Carefully weigh up whether you run the risk of putting everything on one card and relying too much on liposuction. Because in the end it is only operations that, like any other intervention, should only be countered with cautious optimism.
Things don't always go according to plan
I had my liposuction performed in 2015. I was 26 years old at the time and I was in the most threatening dead end for my life. Although I couldn't show any dramatic proportions visually, the pain kept getting worse. Until the end, the time in which I could sit at an angle in the train or car was reduced to only three quarters of an hour. With this inability to travel, fear of the future grew in me and so I decided to get relief, perhaps even free of symptoms, through the liposuction. At this point I have to be grateful to my surgeon for clarifying me so honestly. Because things don't always go according to plan.
As you may have noticed, I was out of luck. After almost a year, I resumed conservative therapy. To this day I feel much better than before the liposuction. Nevertheless, due to the pain, I have to resort to my compression every day.
The psychological pressure is underestimated
What the hopes, the strains of the operations and the healing phase, the financial burden and the ultimately completely individual result do to our heads is seldom examined in detail in my eyes.
If liposuction in lipedema does not go as you wanted it to, you are faced with one great psychological challenge. The disappointment is great, you question everything and your feeling is right at the beginning. Only with significantly fewer nerves and strength. Do not underestimate the stress before, during and after the operations.
Therefore: the lower the expectations, the lower the case in reality.
When I'm having a bad day again, the pain boils up in me and my optimism is fighting an uphill battle with frustration, my mantra has to take hold:
"I have lipedema, lipedema doesn't have me."
When I hear doctors' lectures at congresses and events, I pick up numbers here and there. When a success rate of 30 or 40% drops, I sometimes feel very different. Of course, there are all sorts of statistics, depending on the doctor or study. But if we want to look at it skeptically and soberly (we remember the damn good tip from earlier), then we really don't want to blindly believe all the numbers of those who ultimately earn money with it. We would rarely do that in other industries, so why let the unshakable hope dazzle you here?
There is a chance to be free of symptoms and we can convince ourselves of it regularly in forums and self-help groups. I just wish that all the other voices about complications, risks, long-term consequences or mixed results were just as loud as those who proudly report about a new life.
Don't get me wrong, liposuctions are an important and necessary surgical measure and luckily we have this option. I am happy that I have not returned to the condition before the operations. Nevertheless, it is important to me to signal to all those who are not symptom-free or who have experienced complications that they are not alone with their experiences.
Exchange and, above all, education are of the utmost importance in both directions. For both the light and the dark side of liposuction in lipedema.
This article appeared in the patient magazine "Lympholife" issue 38 of the Lymphologicum eV