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Manitobans lead the fight against Lipedema

Lipedema is a condition characterized by an abnormal buildup of fat in the lower part of your body, which can be painful and affect the patient’s daily routine. This condition mainly affects the buttocks, thighs, and calves, and sometimes the hips or upper arms. It does not usually affect the hands or feet.

At present, Canada lacks a standard procedure for treating lipedema, forcing Canadians to seek expensive treatments overseas. In response, a group of Manitobans has established Lipedema Canada as a nationwide non-profit organization aimed at raising awareness about this chronic disease.

This information caters to both those living with a disease, as well as medical professionals. It aims to help diagnose the disease and create a better understanding of it for the general public. “I just want people to find out sooner before they reach a critical stage and it starts impacting their mobility,” said Angel Anderson, who represents Manitoba within the non-profit. Anderson suffers from lipedema and was previously denied coverage for lipedema reduction surgeries by Manitoba Health because they were classified as experimental. Instead, she chose to undergo a series of four surgeries over nine months in Germany starting in May last year. Although the cost of the procedures amounted to around $90,000, Anderson found them to be life changing.

Hormones and genetics play a role in causing a painful fat buildup and swelling in the arms and legs, causing pain and immobility. Failing proper treatment can lead to another serious condition called lymphedema, marked by a buildup of fluid that can lead to cellulitis and even sepsis.

Lipedema is a progressive disease which can begin at any age and continues to get worse if unaddressed. The origin of this new non-profit was motivated by the years of growing frustration among Canadian patients lacking Lipedema services. It represents a monumental step towards providing vital information for both patients and clinicians, and advocating for patient support at the provincial level.