Facing Lipedema: A Patient's Perspective

Brooke Bayer with her family

Like many others with lipedema, it took me a long time to recognize my condition, despite having an unusual advantage: I work in the lymphedema treatment field. Even so, it was difficult for me to admit to myself I have a fat disorder.

I now realize I had developed lipedema at puberty, despite being diet-conscious and physically fit. Later, my lipedema was exacerbated by pregnancy with two children.

My eye-opening moment came when I was approached by my aunt, who has also struggled with abnormal fat deposition like lymphedema. It turns out lipedema runs in families. It was the first time I’d ever said out loud that I, too, have lipedema. My aunt was surprised to learn this because of my good physical health.

The reality is that lipedema patients come in all shapes and sizes. I used to believe I was simply “curvy” and had my mother’s heavy legs, that this was “my normal” despite the fact that my legs ached and were easily bruised. Since I’m not obese, no physician had ever noted that I was experiencing lipedema symptoms.

A clinical examination with Dr. Thomas Wright confirmed I did indeed have lipedema as well as primary lymphedema, and we immediately began a course of treatment using intermittent pneumatic compression with the Flexitouch Plus system to augment conservative therapy and optimize the maintenance phase following surgery.

Once my lymphatic flow was optimized, we planned for two phases of lymph-sparing liposuction.

The results have exceeded my expectations. My symptoms and fatigue have resolved, and my quality of life has significantly improved. Still, a troubling question remains: if it took me this long to acknowledge my lipedema, how many people are still suffering from this condition without knowing it?

Additional reading

Learn about the overall patient experience and the challenges of diagnosing and treating lipedema in Lipedema: A Devastating Disease Too Often Overlooked by Dr. Thomas Wright, medical director of Laser Lipo & Vein Center in St. Louis, MO.