by Christina Fisanick, Ph.D.
Being diagnosed with lipedema was overwhelming, as you probably guessed if you read my blog post about it. Now that I have had a chance to do more research on treatment options, I am even more overwhelmed. I am also hopeful, and, well, as is typical for me, optimistic.
The only known cure for lipedema is a special kind of liposuction that blasts water under the skin to break up the tough lippy fat. It has been used across Europe for decades, but it has only recently become available in the United States. For the most part, it is not covered by health insurance. In addition, it can have a poor outcome, including making the condition worse.
Before I can even attempt lippy liposuction, though, I have to reduce as much of my none lippy fat as possible. Luckily for me, I had started the recommended eating plan, the ketogenic diet, on June 1 as a means to strengthen my recovery from Food Addiction and Binge Eating Disorder. The addition of more fat and the reduction of carbohydrates made me feel better after about a month, but the best change from going keto was appetite suppression, which led to the elimination of obsessive thoughts and behaviors with food.
In addition, my absolute favorite activity of all time–swimming–is the number one recommended exercise for lipedema. It provides more compression than compression garments, it reduces stress on the body, builds muscle, and builds cardiovascular fitness. It is also great for eating disorder recovery because it is relaxing, energizing, and helps me appreciate my body.
There are other ways the treatment path for lipedema and eating disorders is compatible, but there is one that concerns me. In order to determine if my treatment plan is working, it is necessary that I take photos and measurements of my body, especially those areas impacted by lipedema. Doing so is contrary to my eating disorder recovery plan. Before and after photos can be incredibly triggering for people with eating disorders as well as monitoring body size.
Here I am, then, at this crossroads. Is my recovery strong enough to handle the first step I need to take to treat lipedema?
A wise woman asked me at a reading one afternoon about the conflict between taking drugs to combat other mental health issues (depression, anxiety, and so on) that often accompany eating disorders. Specifically she wondered about drugs that cause weight gain and how that impacts people with Binge Eating Disorder. I had no real answer for her. I empathized. How do you choose? Do you have to?
Here I am facing this dilemma, but I know that I have to do what it necessary to halt the progression of lipedema. After all, I am sure that my BED will intensify should I end up with mobility issues.
The treatment plan for lipedema, like so many other chronic illnesses, varies from person to person, but there are some common elements. In addition to following a ketogenic diet and swimming, I also need to walking at least five miles per day, take a variety of supplements, wear compression garments, do manual lymphatic drainage, and on and on and on.
I am choosing to start with measuring my effected areas, taking Mucinex, drinking 110 oz of water per day (check!), following a ketogenic way of eating (check!), swimming regularly (check!), and eating three Brazil nuts per day (for selenium).
I will explain more about how each of these tools function in my next post. I will also post photos showing you what lipedema looks like.
There are a number of studies that show a connection between lipedema and eating disorders. I hope to summarize some of them here in a future post.
Stay tuned. As always, I remain optimistic.
If you want to learn more about my journey, including what it was like to find recovery from Binge Eating Disorder, please check out my book below.