From the Other Side
by Denise Bennett
My expectations from lipedema surgery: I kept a journal while I was on my lipedema journey. I highly recommend it. Not only will it give you a place to document all the thoughts and emotions that you are experiencing, but I also found that it was a great place to document my memories, fears, concerns, wishes, goals and present realities. At some point in my journey, leading up to my first surgery, I wrote down my expectations from lipedema surgery after my surgeries were complete.
If you have started down the liposuction for lipedema road or are planning to do so, you need to know that this is a primary question asked by most surgeons. They need to know that your expectations are realistic. If you never looked like Marilyn Monroe before, and if you didn’t have Tina Turner legs or Michelle Obama arms a decade ago, then you can bet your bottom dollar that no amount of surgery dollars spent are going to make that happen. As I reflect on my expectations before surgery as compared to how I feel now, I thought it would be a good thing to share with you.
Expectations From Lipedema Surgery
My expectations for lipedema surgery heading into surgery and my two-and-a-half-year post surgery reality:
- My legs will be smaller. This happened. My calves were 21.5 inches before and are now 17 inches… and I have ankles and knees.
- I may or may not be able to wear fashion boots to the knew. Yes! I wore knee high boots for the first time one month after surgery. Now I own 5 pairs of boots. Woot.
- My pain and swelling will diminish or disappear. I no longer have unexplained bruising. The pain disappeared immediately upon healing. I never complain about aching legs anymore unless I have been standing or walking for extended periods of time. I live in Texas, and the summer heat is overwhelming. I have experienced swelling in my lower legs and ankles under these circumstances, but nothing extreme.
- My arms will still have loose skin and may require brachioplasty. This happened. My arms were smaller and could comfortably fit into blouse and jacket sleeves. However, I did have hanging loose skin. Although it improved initially, the skin fell again, and I learned that I have a mild form of EDS that impacts skin only. November of 2019, I had brachioplasty.
- I will be able to purchase and wear pants that are small enough to fist my waist but will not be hugging my calves. I no longer have an issue with pants legs being tight in my calves. Amazingly, what I didn’t know was that when you unbutton and unzip your pants… they fall to the ground. I no longer must pull them down off my lower leg, and no longer have to pull down the pants legs throughout the day after sitting.
- My legs will not feel heavy. This is true. It used to be that by the day’s end, my legs would feel like tree trunks. I no longer have this experience at all. I don’t even think about my legs during the day.
- The progression will be stalled or stopped. Well, it’s only been 2½ years, but so far it seems that the progression has stalled, and I’ve made dietary changes to hopefully keep the progression at bay. I’ll tell you this though… if it comes back, I will not hesitate to get it taken care of immediately. No more suffering. Not physically. Not emotionally. Just no.
- Compression garments after surgery will suck. Well, do I really need to say anything here? Of course, they suck. They can be hot. They can be a pain to put on. They can be cumbersome to wear under pants. They are not what I want to be wearing underneath jeans. But… did I mention that I CAN wear jeans! That I can wear dresses and make my compression look like fashionable leggings! Did you know that some companies make “summer” compression that has a little bit better airflow? This much I know for sure. Compression is a small price to pay for feeling better about my legs and doing my part it is keeping lipedema from coming back if at all possible. I wear compression 4-5 days out of the week. I just plan on wearing dresses on those days and it works well for me.
- I will have done everything possible to turn this around and make the remainder of my life better. I feel this is true. I am doing everything within my power, and if it returns… I will do it all over again. Learning about Lipedema was a lifesaver. Even before the surgeries and the improvements it brought, my life had already changed just by knowing I am not alone and that Lipedema is a disease that isn’t my fault. Life is better when you are not living beneath a burden of negativity and shame.
- My mom will be smiling down from heaven and her worrying will cease. I believe this to be true. I’ll confirm when I get there… hope that’s not anytime soon.