Cara, known as Pale Ginger Pear on Instagram, shares her lipedema surgery before and after story.
She spent years fighting for answers and care for her lymphedema and lipedema. Finally, Cara connected with a compassionate surgeon who changed her life forever.
Now, she’s telling her story to raise awareness and help others get support.
Lipedema Surgery Before And After
Before sharing Cara’s story, it’s important to understand lipedema and how it differs from lymphedema.
Is lipedema and lymphedema the same thing?
Lymphedema is a condition that involves the accumulation of fluid in the tissues.
Lipedema is characterized by excess fat deposition in the legs, ankles, and other body parts.
Both conditions can cause swelling but have different causes and require unique treatments.
What is lipedema?
Lipedema typically affects people assigned female at birth and is thought to be caused by hormonal imbalances or genetic factors. Excess fat is deposited in the legs and ankles, often resulting in swelling and a characteristic “pear-shaped” appearance.
As Cara shares in her story, there’s often a misdiagnosis of obesity or lymphedema. So, it’s critical to advocate for a diagnosis and not allow care providers to dismiss your medical concerns by just telling you to lose weight.
What causes lipedema?
The cause of lipedema is unknown, but it is thought to be related to genetic factors or an imbalance between estrogen levels and fat metabolism. Also, having a high BMI or prolonged standing, which increases pressure on the legs, may also cause lipedema.
The effects of lipedema include pain, discomfort, bruising, redness in the legs, night cramps due to decreased blood flow to tissues caused by increased fat deposits around major vessels.
These can lead to reduced mobility and quality of life for those who suffer from it.
What are the common symptoms of lipedema?
- Swelling of Legs and Arms
- Hard Lumps or Masses Under the Skin
- Pain and Difficulty Moving
How to manage lipedema?
There is no cure for lipedema, but there are several ways to manage the condition and improve symptoms. These may include:
Diet and Exercise
A balanced diet and regular physical activity can help reduce the severity of lipedema.
Wearing compression garments can help reduce swelling and discomfort in the affected areas.
Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD)
MLD is a massage technique that helps improve lymph fluid circulation and reduce swelling in the affected areas.
In some cases, liposuction may help remove excess fat from the affected areas along with other surgeries.
Over-the-counter or pain medication may help manage pain.
While you’ll hear Cara share her care plan with compression therapy, manual lymphatic drainage, and lipedema surgery, each person’s treatment plan is unique.
Can lipedema be removed with surgery?
While lipedema surgery can help remove nodules and change the body’s contours, it is not a cure for lipedema. The condition may recur if the patient gains weight or becomes pregnant.
Commonly, lipedema surgery is a procedure that removes excess fat deposits from the body using a hollow metal tube called a cannula.
The surgeon will evaluate the patient’s overall health, assess the severity of the lipedema, and discuss the patient’s goals for the surgery.
Some providers manually extract nodules, and others, like Cara’s surgeon, do additional surgical procedures like a tummy tuck.
Lipedema Surgery Before And After Photos
Cara’s Lipedema Surgery Story
As Cara discusses in her advocacy work, lipedema impacts one in nine women. That’s the same statistic as breast cancer, yet there’s no comparison with the amount of public education and funding breast cancer receives compared to lipedema.
Getting Diagnosed with Lipedema
Looking back, Cara thinks she started developing lipedema around eight or nine.
Cara had an injury to her left leg during her senior year of high school and developed lymphedema.
During her pregnancy with her son, she finally received a lymphedema diagnosis and treatment around eight years later.
But it didn’t come easy; she had to fight with her primary care physician. Cara shares, “The PCP that I saw at the time told me that I was just fat, and I said, one leg fatter than the other.”
Cara pushed for a referral to a lymphedema wrapping clinic, and when she went into the clinic, she was the worst they had ever seen. So, she immediately received treatment for lymphedema and started wearing compression garments.
Four years passed, and a physical therapist told her she also had lipedema when she went for a new compression wrap. At that moment, so many puzzle pieces started to come together, from having a pear-shaped body to her inability to lose weight.
While Cara believes she started developing lipedema before puberty, it wasn’t until she was thirty that someone mentioned her condition. And it was at this time that she started sharing her story via Instagram.
By connecting with others online who had lymphedema and lipedema, Cara learned about surgical options.
Getting Lipedema Surgery
In 2019, Cara went to a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon’s office, hoping to get more answers and a care plan. There she met with Dr. Jamie, who changed her life forever.
When Dr. Jamie examined Cara, he was immensely concerned, “He was like, but your ankle cuffing is so bad. I’m afraid you’re gonna lose like your mobility and sensation in your feet.”
He immediately started drawing up a treatment plan, but as Cara told him, she was a broke single mom from Pennsylvania and didn’t have the means for surgery.
Lucky for her, Dr. Jamie was working on a documentary and asked Cara if she’d be interested in sharing her story.
Cara was already talking openly about her condition on Instagram. So, this seemed like a fantastic opportunity to get the surgeries and further her advocacy work.
To date, Cara has had six surgeries, and she shares her lipedema surgery before and after story during episode 190 of the Plus Mommy Podcast.
Recording & Show Notes: Plus Mommy Podcast Episode 190
Transcript happily provided upon request.
Resources Mentioned On The Show
- Lipedema resources Cara recommends include; The Lipedema Project (and their quiz to see if you might have Lipedema), Lipedema Fitness, and her lipedema resource list.
- Connect with Cara on TikTok and Instagram, and learn more about her advocacy via her website.