3 Surgeries in Europe – My Experience
After getting diagnosed in 2013, I discovered that there were less conservative treatment options that could help eliminate my Lipedema pain quickly. Other women with Lipedema were going to Germany to get a special kind of surgery called water-jet assisted liposuction (or WAL Surgery). This is a method of liposuction that spares the lymphatic system from further damage which is absolutely essential for those of us with Lipedema.
In 2013, there were almost no physicians in the US that were treating Lipedema with surgery. In fact, while we were in Germany, there were physicians from major medical centers and smaller clinics in the US who were there as well to observe and learn from Dr. Stutz. It felt very much like a pioneer activity for those of us who were there.
This is my Lipedema surgery story.
Note: This was originally written on February 20, 2014, after my first surgery to share with other Lipedema Sisters and friends who were considering surgery in Germany as well so they would know what to expect and could be better prepared. Revised a month Post-Op on March 14, 2014-Edits in Italics
My surgery with Dr. Stutz was scheduled for Feb 11, 2014. I arrived for my pre-op exam and appointment the day before.
The Pre-op Appointment
First, there’s the pre-op exam with Dr. Stutz. This consists of typical exam routines as well as Dr. Stutz checking for Thrombosis (Thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot inside a blood vessel, obstructing the flow of blood through the circulatory system). He also examines the lymphatic system, and general consultation, answering questions concerning the surgeries.
We left Bad Steben 30 minutes before my appointment because we had no sense of distance to gauge how long it would take to drive to Schwarzenbach am Wald. Turns out, it only takes about 10 minutes to get there. We were early. The first thing that struck me was the art. There are sculptures of lippy bodies that somehow made me feel at ease almost immediately.
The front desk girl was friendly and greeted me when I came in. I gave her my name, and within a couple minutes, Dr. Stutz came out and introduced himself to me. He has a friendly smile and a professional demeanor. He invited my husband and I to follow him for my exam.
The first thing he asked me to do was to remove my shoes and pants so he could see my legs. I’m not sure why this didn’t feel awkward, but it didn’t. Instead I felt fairly comfortable. I did as instructed and he inspected my legs, his expression was with mild concern as he looked them over.
When I’d first sent him my photos, he’d asked if I’d had liposuction before because of the puckering on my legs. He thought they looked like scarring I might get from traditional liposuction. I told him that I hadn’t ever had lipo, and that I’d even had a consultation with a plastic surgeon 20 years ago, but he’d said that I needed to get within ten pounds of my ideal weight. That never happened.
*Note: If I’d had lipo before, it would not have prevented Dr. Stutz from treating me. He told me that he gets lippy ladies who have had traditional liposuction prior to knowing that they had Lipedema. He is happy to correct or complete whatever might have been missed by the earlier cosmetic surgeon.
Back to my legs.
Dr. Stutz inspected the puckered areas more closely and commented on the conversation we’d had above. My legs are pretty funny looking, so this didn’t surprise me. He said that he would do what he could to even them out somehow and then asked me to lay on the exam table. He did the doppler inspection of my veins to ensure that there was no Thrombosis. All clear.
Then he looked at my lymphatic system through ultrasound. His expression went a little stern and he went quiet as he examined this. A minute later, he said that my lymphatic system was out of balance and that there was some damage. He pointed it out to me and explained that I was just over the edge of being lipo-lymphedema. But he also assured me that I was doing this at the right time to prevent any further and long-term damage. So basically, if I hadn’t found out about Dr. Stutz and come out here for this surgery, my body would have continued to slowly become more lipo-lymphedema despite all the things I was trying to do to help it get healthier. Awesome.
After the exam, I got dressed while asking any last questions. There weren’t many that I could think of (mostly because of all the awesome write ups that I read from the other girls).
My impression of Dr. Stutz was that he was kind and caring, and sincerely interested in me as his patient. He has a dry sense of humor, too, and a friendly smile. I felt completely reassured and that much more prepared for the big day.
The Pre-op Treatment
The second part of the appointment involves a pre-op treatment to help prep the body for surgery so that the fat and tissues are softer.
My appointment wasn’t for another hour after seeing Dr. Stutz, so my husband and I walked around the corner and up a block to a bakery. I’m not gonna lie, we imbibed in a pastry and a pretty tasty cappuccino (the coffee is ridiculously tasty here). After this, we headed back to the clinic.
We were invited to head upstairs where there was a waiting area with a cappuccino machine, bottled waters (mineral and sparkling), and fresh fruit. There is a water closet (aka toilette) and another staircase that heads up to a third level. We sat down on the comfy sofa and waited.
About fifteen minutes went by, and a lovely blonde woman with a friendly smile emerged from the stairwell on the third floor. A shorter woman trailed behind her, and they continued down the stairs to the bottom level. A couple minutes later, the blonde came back up and introduced herself as Jutta (pronounced like Yoota). I liked her immediately. She asked me to follow her upstairs and invited my husband to come as well.
First, Jutta measured me to re-check my measurements, then she showed me what the compression garments will look like. I got to feel them and get a sense for what I will be wearing. They feel sort of like athletic spandex. The top is similar, only the material is apparently thinner. Both garments are black.
The room that Jutta does these treatments in has a very zen-like feel to it. The room is soft and light with a sloped ceiling. There is a table and two stools, a large wicker chair, and on the other side of the room is a large spa table with a sheet on it.
Then she pulled out a white body stocking and asked me to disrobe down to my under garments and put on the body stocking. My hubby took photos through all of this.
Once dressed in the stretchy (and seriously comfortable) suit, she had me lay on my belly on the spa table. The machine that she uses is an Endermologie machine. I was already familiar with it as I’d had a treatment prior, and had earlier experience with it.
For those who don’t know about it, Endermologie is a device used to help reduce cellulite, increase circulation and stimulate the lymphatic system. It has a mechanical component with small rollers that the practitioner uses to massage the desired areas. There is a gentle vacuum as well as vibration and it is pretty comfortable. Treatments in the US are usually $65 or more.
Anyway, Jutta did the Endermologie treatment on me, first on the back and sides of my legs, then about half way through, had me turn over and treated the front and sides of my legs.
When I arrived, I was in significant lippy pain pretty much all the time, so the Endermologie was a little uncomfortable at times. Jutta was more than willing to ease back if it hurt at all, but I feel that there comes a point with this lippy pain where any touch is uncomfortable. At least that is where I was at, and I didn’t want that to interfere with my body being fully prepared for the first surgery, so I just dealt with it as she did it. Jutta is very friendly and we talked throughout the treatment. She offered to answer any other questions I might have about the surgery that Dr. Stutz had not answered yet.
I did have one question that others may or may not have, and that was about the tape and the shaving bit. To reach everything, they put a piece of wide tape like duct tape across your girly bits and up your bum crack. True story.
This might sound funny, but I was more worried about standing in a room with Dr. Stutz’s assistants having my nether region taped whilst being as bare as the day I was born. Jutta assured me that most of the younger Germans remove all their hair (both men and women) and it is “fashionable” so I should not feel the least bit self-conscious. This may or may not be true, but I was reassured nonetheless. I had other questions, but I can’t recall exactly which off hand. The entire treatment was about 45 minutes.
Before I left, Jutta gave me a post-surgery bag which had: Pain killers (a mild one and a prescription strength Tylenol type), Antibiotics (in foil strips), Bromelein (an enzyme from pineapple which helps reduce swelling), and Heparin shots (blood thinner to prevent clotting) to do daily for a week after the surgery, as well as a sheet of paper that included how much to take of each and when, and how to reach Dr. Stutz in the event of an emergency or with questions.
When that was done, my husband and I headed back to Bad Steben to get ready for the big day. We went to the Pub downstairs at our hotel and had dinner with others from the US who were there for the same reason. I did not drink any alcohol (as instructed for the day before surgery) but instead drank plenty of water.
Note: I took my first dose of Arnica 50M (3 pellets) the day before my surgery in the afternoon. I took a second dose again that evening. The day of the surgery, I took 5 Arnica pellets every couple hours prior to the surgery.
The First Surgery
We arrived for the surgery early (as usual), and were instructed to go to the upstairs waiting area. There were a few men sitting on the sofa or in a chair, and a couple sitting at the table. I was surprised to see so many people there at first. A few minutes went by and a woman came out of the double doors. A man who I’m assuming was her significant other jumped up to assist her. She had obviously just come out of surgery. A minute later, a doctor I didn’t recognize came out and spoke with them in German. Interesting. A few minutes later, another woman came out and was greeted by her significant male whatever person. She was more cheerful and I could see that perhaps her legs were wrapped under her running suit. Dr. Stutz came out a few minutes later and interacted with them, after smiling and greeting me and a short banter. All of this was oddly reassuring.
These random people came and went, and a few minutes later, a girl came out dressed in scrubs and asked me to come with her. She was pretty and friendly and her name was Antoinetta, My husband tried to follow, but she told him that they would send for him shortly. She whisked me off to the operating “theater” aka the surgery room. There was another assistant, who indicated a plastic bin by the door where I could put all of my belongings and clothes into. Before we started, I took this opportunity to excuse myself and go to the bathroom one last time before the surgery. I highly recommend this.
I came back, disrobed completely besides my bra, and was given a scrub shirt to wear (Antoinetta explained that the shirt would likely get wet with fluid), and then she pulled out the dreaded tape. They chuckled when I told them I knew all about the tape, and for whatever reason, I wasn’t the least bit self conscious standing there bare ass naked in a room full of strangers. By now there were three girls, and the last one, Stefanie was helping me with the tape. She put a panty liner in the center of the tape (what a relief) so that my girly bits could be spared, and then in a regular team effort, we applied the tape from the top off my ass crack down and then back up again to about three inches below my navel.
As if on cue, Dr. Stutz entered the room. Again, he did not make me feel in the least bit uncomfortable even though I was standing there like some prehistoric native with my single piece of tape and purple scrub shirt. He guided me over to the full-length mirror where he showed me what he planned on removing and why. Then he used his marker to detail these areas, and photographed me against the measuring grid: front, side left, back, side right. After this, he handed me over to the girls for final prep.
One of the girls pulled out scrubs and was finding shoes (crocks) for my husband since he was going to be in the surgery room with me, while another girl sprayed me down with the cold antiseptic.
In the midst of this, one of the girls put in an IV valve in case of an emergency. Then I climbed onto the surgery table, waited hardly a moment when Dr. Stutz was there beside me asking me if I was ready.
And here we were. The moment of truth.
The surgery was about to happen after months of anticipation and waiting and so much lippy pain. I was definitely ready. We had a water bottle and dropped 5 Arnica pellets in it so that I could sip it as needed.
Dr. Stutz asked if I had other questions, then explained each step as he did it: First, he would inject a local anesthetic into my legs to get them numb for when he used the small scalpel to create the tiny incisions for the cannula. I have no idea how many of these injections he did, but they stung only for a moment and then there was the tiniest burn. None of it as uncomfortable as the lippy pain I endured every single day.
Once the areas were numb, he did the tiny incisions (about 3mm or less than a ¼ inch). Those felt weird. They didn’t hurt, but I could feel the pressure for a second and then an odd feeling of cutting, but no pain.
After he made the incisions, he inserted the cannula and jetted the fluid. This is very gentle, but there is some pressure and discomfort because the fluid is what really makes the area numb before he works on it, so he’s spraying the area with solution beneath the surface of the skin and moving the cannula forward somewhat as he does this. I found this part to be the least comfortable because the areas are becoming numb and not fully numb yet. If it was too painful, I let Dr. Stutz know, and he eased back and allowed the fluid to flow more gently before moving forward. Despite that, it was all very bearable. He did this throughout the area he was working.
Once the area was numb, he began the suctioning of the fat. I did not watch the actual procedure (sorry, just couldn’t do it), but I could clearly see the vials as they filled up with my lippy fat and fluids.
I will tell you that while it was all bearable, it was uncomfortable as I could feel the pressure and dull pain. This was different from the occasional acute pain I felt very momentarily as he worked a new area. When that happened, I told him and he simply eased off and allowed the fluid to do its thing before going back in again without causing any acute pain. But throughout the procedure itself, I felt some level of discomfort.
I debated whether to ask for more fluid with the pain killer in it, but in the end, I decided that it wasn’t unbearable, and now that I knew what to expect, I needed to get my head in the game. I’ve had 4 children, all naturally, and none of this was as uncomfortable as that or the actual lippy pain that plagued my days and nights. I decided that I would let Dr. Stutz know if it hurt (like a sharp pain or more than just uncomfortable), but that I could manage the discomfort for a short while to have a lifetime of no more pain. This mindset helped considerably, and before I knew it, we were done.
Note: Dr. Stutz used a different anesthetic for my second surgery and that made a difference though it was still uncomfortable. I think I’m resistant to the original anesthetic and didn’t realize it which is why it was more uncomfortable than necessary.
During the procedure, there’s a clear vinyl hose which my golden fat globules pumped through. Dr. Stutz explained to us that the fat were like nuggets of gold that he was mining for. Appropriate, I’d say.
Dr. Stutz uses one hand to feel the surface of the area he is working, while the other hand gently guides the cannula. The initial fat is all a golden color-with no blood at all, and as there is less fat and more fluid, the color changes. Then it is more orange in color, and as he gets the last bit of lippy fat, the color is pinker as some blood mixes with the tumescent fluid that he is draining out. There is almost no blood though. This is vastly different from any other type of liposuction where there is generally a lot of blood.
Jutta told me that they had the fat analyzed once after a surgery and that there was so little blood in an entirely full container that it’s actually negligible. I believe it!
Dr. Stutz systematically worked on my hips, saddle bags, outer and backside of my inner thighs, then my inner knee padding and inner calves. The most difficult was my outer thighs. I expected this because this is the area that was quite puckered and he had to work it from many angles to try and get all the fat and make it somewhat even.
Just as he started my left leg, I needed to use the bathroom. He’d already done some work on both legs, but the bulk had been on my right leg. The toilet is located down the hall from the surgery room in the waiting area. Dr. Stutz stepped out of the surgery room, and one of his assistants went to clear out anyone who might be in the waiting area. One of the girls gave me a robe, and I climbed off the table and promptly leaked bloody fluid everywhere. I hobbled down the hall with the help of one of the girls and my husband right behind us. I ripped off the tape (so grateful I shaved), and relieved myself while bloody fluid pooled at my feet. They left the door open enough to hear me if I needed help or if anything happened. I apologized to them profusely for the mess I trailed back to the surgery room, but they assured me that it was absolutely normal and not in the slightest bit a problem. Whew.
They taped me back up again, I climbed back on the table, and they sprayed me down. Dr. Stutz was there again as if nothing had interrupted us in the first place. I took this opportunity to drink some of my water with Arnica in it. I can’t be certain, but it seemed that one of his assistants was dabbing at my incisions with cotton soaked with antiseptic. I’m assuming that she was following behind him. For whatever reason, my left leg was much easier and less uncomfortable overall.
The entire surgery took a little over 3 hours and 4 canisters of fat and fluid. I felt fine after. Once Dr. Stutz was finished, he left two of his girls with me to clean me up.
Post Op Wrap Up – Literally
First, they gave me a Heparin shot in my stomach, noting the time so that I could do it the next day at around the same time. The needle is very thin and the girl injected the fluid slowly so it did not burn.
Then they worked systematically: removing my arm IV, wiping me down, spraying each incision with a medical grade adhesive, covering each incision with a small strip of tape, then putting some ointment on each incision, followed by a small bandage.
After this, they brought out my compression garment, which they proceeded to haul me into unceremoniously. My husband was mildly concerned while trying not to laugh. It wasn’t very dignified. These have no feet, so they come to the ankles, then up the legs. There are hooks like on a bra along either side of the hips (about 10 or 12 hooks on each side) as the garment comes up above the waist to just below the breasts. There is a hole in the garment that is designed to allow you to relieve yourself without ever removing the garment. I will go into detail on that bit later, but first-this garment is so snug that your girly bits can’t help but peek out of the hole (at least mine did). At which point Dr. Stutz came in to check on me one last time. I stood there with my hand discreetly covering the peep hole in my garment while he circled me inspecting his work clinically. Meanwhile, my husband was chuckling across the room. Dr. Stutz seemed satisfied that I was good, and left the room.
The girls had me climb back onto the table while they wrapped me up and seemed to not care or notice the peephole as they wrapped my legs first in a cotton wrapping, then an ace bandage, followed by puppy pads which were taped together with medical tape, and then finally a large adult diaper. Ridiculously undignified indeed.
Stefanie told me I could remove the padding and wraps, and shower in the morning, and I was scheduled for the following afternoon for treatment with Jutta.
After Surgery Home Care
We arrived back at the hotel and headed out to do some walking. I wore a skirt over my wrappings and put plastic bags in my shoes to collect any leakage. The walking was good, though I felt a bit stiff and sore. We walked for maybe 45 minutes and then headed back to our room.
Within hours the pads on my legs were sagging from the weight of body fluids and I was dripping everywhere. We placed puppy pads in a neat path from the bed to the bathroom, and then added one to the bathroom floor itself. But, we made the mistake of removing the pads and diaper. The result was messy. I was startled by the volume of bloody tinged fluid as it literally pooled at my feet when I went to the toilet, and while climbing into bed, I left a trail of bloody water along the side of the mattress. I can not stress how important it is to be prepared. I was definitely not.
It became clear that I needed to cover my legs again to contain at least some of what was leaking, so we placed new pads all over me and attached them with the tape from the first ones and used the diaper as the foundation. Ridiculous, but necessary. I still leaked that first night and was certain that there was something wrong with me because I did not remember reading any of the other ladie’s accounts being so gruesome. I re-read them that night in bed, and realized that Polly’s was pretty detailed. I suppose I read what I wanted to read the first time. In hindsight, I should have worn snug fitting yoga pants or leggings over my wrappings that night and that would have solved a significant amount of the mess.
I did not sleep well, and was excited to shower the next morning. The fluid has a smell that is similar to amniotic fluid and birthing smells and I could not wait to get it off me. I climbed in the shower and washed myself until the water ran clear. I was surprised that it eventually did run clear based on the night’s mess. I patted myself dry with an old towel. It ended up with some blood on it, and then I proceeded to blow dry my compression garment while it was on me. That took a good 15-20 minutes. My husband helped me wrap pads over areas that were still leaking, and I put on a pair of leggings, and then my skirt. Perfect containment! There was no more leaking after the third day.
Walking Every Day to Heal Faster
Each day I walked as much as I could, but I also rested as needed. Within the first days I noticed that the lippy pain in my legs was no longer bothering me. This was HUGE.
I also noticed that the lippy pain in my arms did bother me (I’d hardly noticed them compared to my leg pain).
I also noticed that my legs didn’t feel heavy when I walked. I burst into tears at least twice while walking because I could hardly believe that it was truly happening to me too. Yes, I have the discomfort from the surgery, but it is different from the lippy pain, and that seems to be pretty much gone. I’m still amazed.
Dr. Stutz told me to walk, walk, walk. Walking is essential and may seem counter intuitive at first. Really, I felt like I wanted to rest and recover and “take it easy” (after all, I’d just had a surgery!), but the healing process doesn’t work that way.
At first, when I wake up or have been sitting for any time, my legs feel stiff and sore and I am inclined to resume resting, BUT when I force myself up and start walking, something amazing happens. My legs feel lighter, the aching and stiffness ease up and my legs almost feel normal after a while. So when Dr. Stutz and Jutta recommend walking, walking, walking, they know what they’re talking about. That’s not to say that I didn’t rest when I needed it too, because I did. But walking is really brilliant.
I try to walk more than one mile or 3km a day.
After the surgery, I had to give myself daily heparin shots over the next week to ensure that my blood didn’t clot. The shots are no big deal and his staff show you how to do it so you can do it yourself. Like I said earlier, the needle is thin and short and really doesn’t hurt. Occasionally, there may be a slight sting, but it’s so slight, it’s almost inconsequential. I followed the instructions and it was easy. I didn’t bruise at all, though others I know have bruised. My surgery was done at 3:30, so I set an alarm on my phone to remind me each day at that time to give myself the injection.
I go to Jutta daily for my post-op treatments nearly every day. They are soothing in some ways and still a little uncomfortable where I am tender, but each day I feel better. I know that it is helping tremendously with the healing. She does the Endermologie treatments almost every day if I’m willing, except Sundays and occasionally if she has some other engagement or schedule conflict. She literally works every day until 9:00pm because she loves what she does. The Endermologie treatment takes about 45 minutes, and then she does some sort of energy treatment with a magnet that lasts about 10 minutes. After this, she tells me how my body is healing. I don’t understand about the last part, but I’m usually too busy chatting with Jutta to notice. My feeling is that she really cares about helping each patient, and she is doing everything she can to help speed that process up, so I let her help me and I find that in the end, I feel like I’m in very caring hands.
About That Compression Garment…
The compression garment is initially very snug. They put it on over the bandages and some of those bandages were disturbed whilst I was getting stuffed into the compression. This resulted in small lump-like particles in various areas under my compression. This is apparently “no big deal”. I worried that it would prevent the incisions from healing properly, but it did not. I had to wear the compression 24 hours a day for the first two weeks.
Taking a shower with this on is interesting. I had to allow an hour to start my day. I’d shower and rinse myself fully (thankfully all the showers here have a removable shower head so you can rinse wherever needed). Then I’d towel dry myself, blotting the compression as I went, starting from the waist and working my way down. After that, I’d take a second dry towel and repeat the process. Then I’d allow it to air dry while I did my hair and makeup. Once that was done, I’d blow dry the garment while in it, starting at my waist and making my way down to my ankles. Tedious, but necessary.
Five days after the surgery, my period came. I’m sorry if this is TMI, but we are women and this subject bears discussion where the compression garment is concerned because it creates a whole new set of circumstances.
I generally have a heavier cycle. I normally use a maxi thin and the Diva Cup (a washable silicone menstrual cup). However, because of the compression garment and how it squeezes everything in the nether regions, I could not use my Diva cup because I could not insert it properly (and believe me, I tried). After almost a week, the compression garment was fitting differently and the hole was no longer snugly against my girly bits-yet it was still squishing everything, so that when I wore panties over the garment and a pad, the pad did not touch me, but was suspended away from my girl bits by the garment. I hope this makes sense, because geez was this a problem.
We went to the grocery store and there are only O.B. Style tampons here, so I had to manually insert one of these suckers despite being squished down there. In the end, what worked best was: a tampon, the longer pads with the wings and I put the longer end in front, my panties over the garment, then snug-fitting leggings or yoga pants (they must fit snugly against the body at the crotch or they will be useless). Looks like I’ll have it again 5 days after my next surgery. Awesome.
As the days went by and the swelling went down, the garment fit me differently as it loosed up a bit. This would cause it to slide down just enough to shift that stupid peephole with its elastic band around the edges. This would lead to chaffing when I walked. I did three things to handle this:
First, I got a pair of snug-fitting dishwashing gloves from the grocery store so that I could pull my compression back up properly. This is actually a useful trick for more easily getting into any compression (and Spanx for that matter).
Second, I folded some toilet paper and tucked it around the edges of the peephole to provide some padding.
Last, I always wear pants over the compression whether just leggings or jeans and I pull them up snug so they keep all my compression and padding snugged up against me fully. I actually wear the compression first, then panties with a long maxi thin in it, then the pants or outer garment. If I wear a skirt, I wear leggings under it to keep everything snug and then the skirt. I don’t know how this would work for others in warmer weather, but it has worked for me.
Two Weeks After Surgery
After two weeks, the compression came off and Dr. Stutz inspected his handiwork. I had some pretty colorful bruising, but it wasn’t as bad as I’d anticipated. My legs looked like a slightly smaller version of what they were before, and I did not notice a drastic difference for the most part.
I wasn’t disappointed because the main reason I did the surgeries was to eliminate the lippy pain, and as far as I could see, that part was successful. Besides, it was only two weeks. I was still tender and my body was still healing.
Jutta took my garment and had it washed properly and altered so that it would fit again. This meant I had to spend the rest of the day and night, and the morning without compression. It felt weird and I did not like it. My legs felt more sensitive unprotected and I was uncomfortable whilst walking. In the evening, I put on simple leggings to sleep in and that helped.
The next day, Jutta helped me into my now snug-fitting compression and gave me another treatment. That helped. I wore the compression 12 hours each day, generally from 8am-8pm. Then I’d hand wash them and hang them to dry for the next day. In the evening I’d wear regular old leggings or yoga pants. Jutta said it’s important NOT to wear anything with compression during the 12 hours with the garment off. This is to allow the tissues to strengthen and regain their elasticity on their own and is vital for the healing process.
My body is already responding and I am eternally grateful to Dr. Stutz and his staff. They truly love what they do, and care, and it shows. I can’t imagine where I’d be if I hadn’t done this. Best. Decision. Ever.
Additional Note: I re-read this after my second surgery, and I’ve made a few edits on this as I realize I’d forgotten a few minor points. I also wanted to say that this second surgery was distinctly different. After the surgery, I used the restroom, and then before I was bandaged up, I ensured that the fluid was squeezed out. This was not done on the first surgery and likely contributed to leaking so much fluid that first night on my first surgery. This time, I held onto the operating table for support and gently squatted so that the fluid could spray out of me. Gross, I know. But necessary. Then when I climbed onto the table to get cleaned up, the assistant proceeded to squeeze my legs one at a time and area by area. The first time was rather startling as a stream of fluid sprayed out my thigh like a fountain. But I will tell you that I did not leak really that night, and was done leaking completely by the following day.
I literally did not soil a single pad or towel. It was a bit surreal after my first experience.
Final Surgery – My Arms…
The final surgery for my arms was just two weeks after my second surgery on my legs.
First, Dr. Stutz marked up the areas that needed attention the most (check out those batwings though).
This surgery was weirdly more uncomfortable and I had to remind myself that the pain killers are really just for my comfort but don’t affect the outcome of my results themselves AND it’s for a finite time. My husband was there to lend support as needed, but it was still very uncomfortable.
Once it was over, I was helped into my upper compression garment which was sleeves and a velcro closure across my upper chest leaving my breasts exposed. I put my bra on over the compression, and then layered my top on over that. After the surgery the assistants wrapped me in padding to soak up any drainage and sent me on my way.
This was weirdly a rougher recovery process for me. Once the anesthetic wore off, my arms hurt enough that I burst into tears at one point. Oh boy.
I think we even got that on video…
So, there you have it. My surgeries. Three in all.
My body’s appearance changed a bit, but not drastically. The relief was in the absence of the Lippy pain. Huge.
A little unsettling with the anesthesia but I have no regrets. Each surgery helped me and Dr. Stutz and his team are truly wonderful!
it was amazing to read your story.. i am so happy for you for this successful journey. i have lipoedema too. i think stage 2 . i feel uncomfortable to write here because i am not so good in English but i still write because i need someone to talk to. someone who can understand me . most of people around me cant. I dealing with lipoedema all my life but just recently things got worse after in first time of my life I gained weight in short time. maybe is the age (i am almost 50) or the life( I have 7 kids its a lot to do and worry about. ) following the weight gain the lipoedema got much worth . so i gained 28 kg in 3 years and most of it in my upper legs and knees and arm. i was very upset and depressed. but when recently my lower legs started to swell too i couldn’t take it anymore. i went to see some professional in order to have lipo but all of them told me its not worth it if i don’t loose 20 kg first, i started diet and sport again but of course i have lipoedema so i loose it in grams!!! the one thing is very interesting : i don’t have any pain pain!!! unless if i press on the skin. that’s something i wonder about when i consider a lipo .
i red your story . you write there that your appearance didn’t change a lop but you feel much less pain . so if not for the pain is it worse it? all the money and recovery? (i just want to have lipo to reduce the fat in legs and arm especially in lower legs.)
thank you for reading
Hi Ruti! Thank you for commenting and sharing your experience. I’m sorry to hear about the weight loss surgical requirements where you are. For me it was worth it, but because of the pain. Of course, I care about appearance, but I don’t care as much about it as I do about the pain. I just wrote a new blog post on toxins and fat that may be helpful to you. Please go to my resource page and look at the support resources. It is important that you have support and others to lean on and share with. It makes everything better. Truly. You can also email me through the website 🙂
Hi! I was so happy to read your story about your experience getting surgery (and feel a little squeamish tbh)! I am only 26 and I don’t think my lipedema is severe (yet) but it has plagued me and my confidence for a long time. No doctor has ever properly diagnosed and usually just dismisses my pain and says I have bad genetics. Reading your article made me feel understood! I am strongly considering a procedure for my lipedema and recently learned that many people go overseas. I am wondering if you feel comfortable sharing how much you paid for your procedures? As of 2022, it looks like the few reliable US plastic surgeons are charging 15k or more. Was going to Germany a cost-saver, or because the treatment didn’t exist in the US in 2014? And as someone new to the community I’m wondering if you’ve heard of any success in using US insurance to get this covered (if doing it in the US). Thanks again for telling your story!!!
Hi, thanks a lot for sharing your lipedema journey!
I have been recently diagnosed with stage 3 lipedema, my doctor has suggested me to go for a liposuction. I am kind of gathering all the information before I prepare myself for the surgery. Actually I am very scared of the post-op recovery and pain. Can you pls guide me how it went with you and are there any risks involved with the surgery. I live in Berlin though.
Looking forward to hearing from you..