Diagnosis & Treatment in Alberta
Lipedema is not part of standard medical training. For the most part, family physicians, endocrinologists, vascular specialists, weight specialists and other medical professionals do not know what Lipedema is. Alberta does not have a doctor who specialises specifically in Lipedema, and there are only a handful who are familiar with it across all of Canada.
There is no known cure for Lipedema, however there are conservative and surgical treatment options. At this time, Alberta Health Services does not cover the costs of either option.
Conservative treatment can help manage the symptoms of pain and edema, but does not stop the progression. Combined (or complex) Decongestive Therapy – known as CDT – includes a special massage technique called Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD), flat knit compression and skin care. Exercise, physical activity (especially water therapies) and anti-inflammatory food plans also help with pain management. Some experts in the USA and Europe also recommend natural supplements.
Although conservative therapy has become the norm, surgical treatment is gaining popularity throughout Europe and the USA as the standard form of Lipedema management using various, specialised lymphatic sparing forms of liposuction.
Information for your Healthcare Team
As Lipedema is not currently part of standard medical education, most family physicians will not be familiar with it. That means it may be your job to advocate for yourself, and educate your physician on Lipedema and how it differs from both Lymphedema and Obesity.
Below is a great article to provide your physician with to help further their knowledge and assist in your diagnosis and treatment!
What Can You Do?
Be your own Advocate and manage Self Care
- Find a local MLD Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapist. Though this is not covered by Alberta Healthcare, most supplemental insurance covers it under Massage Therapy. https://albertalymphedema.com/therapists/
- It is important to ensure your MLD therapist is accredited through one of the following schools – Vodder, Foeldi, Norton, Klose & Casey-Smith
- Ask your Doctor about a prescription for a Lymphatic Pump as these are often covered by supplemental insurance.
- Consider investing in FLAT knit compression garments – should be covered by supplemental insurance.
- Move your body- Exercise helps improve blood and lymphatic flow as well as stimulating fitness pathways that help manage stress when it happens. water excercize is great for the lymphatics and easy on the joints. https://www.fatdisorders.org/treatments-summary
- Diets are not for Lipedema but proper nutrition is important. There has been growing research on the success for Lipedema symptom management by following a ketogenic way of eating. Please consult with your physician prior to beginning any dietary change as certain medications and ailments do not mix well with a ketogenic diet. https://www.facebook.com/groups/LipedemaKetoWOE/1815973398625404/?notif_t=group_activity¬if_id=1472592412073600
- Anxiety, depression, self loathing, low self esteem and poor body image are very common comorbidities of Lipedema- Seek help and support from a mental healthcare proffesional. Mental Health Helpline 1-877-303-2642 (24/7)
- Eating disorders are often an issue for women with Lipedema. If you find yourself on the continous diet train, binge eating or even living on lettuce: these are all signs of disordered eating. Talk to your family Doctor as Alberta Healthcare offers support programs. https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/info/hp/arp/if-hp-arp-cz-eatingdisorders-qr.pdf
- Contact your MLA and MP to educate them on Lipedema