By Denise Bennett
Do you have lipedema in your abdomen? I did. In fact, when I reflect on the development of my body, going back to puberty, my lower abdomen is the first place that began to accumulate fat. On my lower belly, just above the pubis and beneath my navel is where fat first made its ugly appearance. I developed a little roll of fat that became a bigger roll of fat as the years progressed. Again, no matter how much I dieted, exercised, or no matter how many sit-ups I did, the pooch of fat was a constant companion.
The very first time I ever discovered a fatty lump in my body (like a marble) it was in my lower abdomen while showering. My first thought was that I was going to die, and my second thought was that it felt somehow familiar. I recalled that my grandmother had fatty tumors on her arm and on her neck, and I consoled myself with the thought that this is exactly what the little marble in my belly was. Nothing to worry about. And so, I didn’t. I never mentioned it to anyone and thankfully, it didn’t kill me.
Fast forward 40 plus years, and Dr. Byrd mentions in a consultation that she is suspicious that I have lipedema in my abdomen as well. Afterwards, I laid down on a flat surface and began to palpate my abdomen and ribcage, and lo and behold, marbles all along my ribs and just under the surface in by belly. Lipedema. I took a good look at the texture of my skin and noticed that it was not smooth. I remember that on many occasions, the skin on my abdomen would, for no apparent reason, develop what I referred to as “hives” and bruises. I even went to a dermatologist about this, and she suggested that I may have some sort of an immune disorder, as there was no other apparent reason for the hives and bruises. Lipedema.
Earlier this year in March, I had liposuction on my abdomen/ribcage. Dr. Byrd removed 3 liters (I think) of lipedema fat globules, starting from just underneath by breasts all the way down to the pubic bone. This surgical recovery is not for sissies. Just warning you. After having had my full legs and full arms done, and going through that recovery process, I can tell you that THIS is nothing like THAT.
I have never been so bruised. I have never been this swollen. I have never felt so “burned” in my entire life, and I have experienced many sunburns that left my skin with blisters that leaked out onto the bedsheets as a teenager. THIS was nothing like that. THIS was difficult, but worth it.
So, if liposuction of your abdomen is in your future. Read this.
- You will only be able to sleep on your back for approximately 6 weeks. You will be tempted to sleep on your side or your tummy. You will try. You will immediately return to your back.
- Your pubis will resemble something that you have never seen on your body before in your life. I mean this. Don’t look at it. Don’t let anyone else look at it. It is ugly and will sear into your mind’s eye forever.
- Your belly will turn black, not blue. Then it will turn blue, then red, then yellow. And then it will turn red again, and portions of it, where blood has settled and dried will stay black for a very long time. Again, it is not pretty.
- You will be swollen and puffy and your abdomen will be unrecognizable to you for months.
- You will laugh. It will hurt when you laugh, but you will laugh anyways when you recall what you saw when you looked at your pubic region after surgery even though I told you not to. You will laugh even harder when you think about the fact that I told you this.
- Epson salt baths help.
- Eventually, your miraculous body will heal itself, and you will feel better and look better than you imagined.
- Your tummy will be flatter than it was. The marbles that were on your ribcage will be gone. You will keep feeling your tummy to check and see if the marbles are still gone, and if you can feel your ribs. You will do this a lot, in fact every time you lay down, you will feel your ribs.
- You will marvel at how good you feel and look with clothes on.
- Depending on how jiggly your skin is to begin with, and how much retraction your skin gets after surgery, you may have loose skin on your abdomen after your full recovery.
- You will, on occasion, bust out laughing when you think about what you have put your body through and when you refer to item number 2 on this list.
- Finally, you will be thankful, that for some unknown reason, Dr. Byrd is able to respectfully and skillfully work on your body while at the same time leaving you a sense of dignity.
Happy healing and carry on my sisters.
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