Lipedema is poorly understood. That much we know. We gain, we hurt, we swell and deal with inflammation. That we know, too. New research sometimes allows us to catch a glimpse of what is or could be behind the veil. Best examples I know of at this point is by Szél et al (2014) Pathophysiological dilemmas of lipedema (abstract) and by Bosman et al (pending) Prospective controlled study to determine the use of ultrasound in lipoedema patients compared to obesity, which reveals distinct characteristics in our connective tissue.*
But these glimpses are rare. Extremely rare. Most papers are still about liposuction or what lipedema looks like, including overviews of traditional treatment options. I know you can never get too sure about surgical intervention and within that area of expertise much is being learned still, about treating stage 3 lipedema, differences between types of cannulas and techniques etc. Most useful. Of course.
But still… With liposuction getting most attention and being presented in the media as a cure sometimes or the only effective treatment, a situation of supply and demand is being created, where patients place their money – literally – on liposuction. It’s becoming the thing to do and the thing to want. The next step, which is already becoming apparent, is that treatment becomes about liposuction.
I would like to see it as a tool in a toolbox that, like any toolbox, contains more useful tools with room for more and new tools. New tools, less invasive hopefully, and, dare I hope, even more effective, will not be found unless there’s a supply of data. But before there’s supply, there needs to be demand. We need to voice that demand. We need to be that demand. We need to strive for more insight into causes of lipedema.
There’s still much work to be done in raising awareness. Don’t give up on learning about the cause(s) in this lifetime. Perhaps, as one of the members of Lipese Challenge (Facebook group) suggested, it could be a plan to take matters in our own hands and get new research topics on the table. Why not? Doctors tend to see those in need of diagnosis and at that point barely informed. Once that hurdle is taken and some additional reading and thinking is done, the vital questions start to sink in. Questions we usually only express among ourselves.
I don’t mean to be gloomy, but we are currently at risk to see research regarding causes being skipped altogether in favor of treating symptoms. And nothing but symptoms. A course of action that happens to so many conditions out there. Finding the needle in the haystack may not be particularly marketable at the short term, but I for one would love to see it found. Because, if you ask me, prevention for generations to come still trumps surgery for damage control.
*Feel free to chime in and point out recent groundbreaking research towards causes, which I may have missed. Make my day!