“It pulls and stretches with every movement”

The glances of Strangers, the do in the supermarket, on the street or in the Park after your turn, Birgit Richter hurt. You think you know what you’re thinking: ‘As a fat woman. How sedate she runs!’ “I can’t help it”, would the judges scream, “I’m sick!” She never does it. Instead, the 52 leaves-Year-old is rarely in the house, hoarding their 134-pound body: “I feel like I’m buried alive,” she says.

How many women suffer?

Birgit Richter is one of many women in Germany, for the Minister of health, Jens Spahn made recently, because they suffer from so-called lipedema – a pathological fat distribution disorder. How many of them there really are, nobody knows, because there are no backed up data. “We estimate that about ten percent of all women are affected,” says Gunther Felmerer, head of the center of gravity plastic and Aesthetic surgery at the University medical center Göttingen. In view of the high estimate he stressed: “Not all victims feel sick and need treatment.”

Lipedema – what is it?

“The disease only affects women,” says Felmerer. “In the Affected you will find pathologically altered adipose tissue in both legs, knees and lower legs. The feet are never affected.” In the course of the disease, the poor could be affected.

The cause is unknown. “We suspect that it has something to do with hormonal changes,” said Klaus Walgenbach, head of Plastic and Aesthetic surgery at the University hospital in Bonn. “Often Lipödeme occur in puberty, pregnancy or menopause. In addition, a genetic predisposition may exist.”

The most significant symptoms of the disease: The limbs are thick, the skin pressure-sensitive and more prone to bruising.

Each Kilo brings more pain

Birgit Richter is one of the severely Affected. For the past seven years, the 52-Year-old, who has always been slim is more, a little bit every day. “I don’t eat much. I must helplessly watch.”

The increase began in 2012, after you had been removed the uterus. The hamburger kept to a diet, made even more sports – but her figure was lush. And not only that, With every Kilo more, the pain crept into her body. “It burns like fire,” says Richter. “It pulls and stretches with every movement.” Brushing your teeth or blow-drying their hair you can barely stand it.

Where do you get the pain?

Also, the medicine does not know much. “It is typical of lipedema, between the fat cells, water stored,” said Walgenbach. “A vague theory is that inflammatory processes can alter the connective tissue and drainage disorders.” It will be assumed that the nerve will, by these changes of the tissue more sensitive and irritable.

Conservative treatment is often not enough

Birgit Richter has tried everything to control your body recover. With Sport, you never came. “The fat cells are pathologically altered and do not respond to athletic movements such as healthy fat cells,” explains Walgenbach. The judge tried the conservative methods of treatment lymphatic drainage and compression treatment. The lymphatic drainage is gentle handles jammed fluid from the body remove. Compression garments increases the pressure on the tissue, whereby liquid can drain off. “Often a slight extent produced by these two methods, although reducing, but the heavy feeling and the pain remain,” said Walgenbach.

It was also the case with Birgit Richter, long-term facilitation, there was for you. “For me, it was mentally getting worse and worse,” says the hairdresser, “I could not do my Job.”

She opted for an Operation called liposuction. In this case, the excess, pathological body is filtered off fat. This is expensive: A session costs between 3000 and 7000 Euro. So far, the intervention is not included in the statutory health insurance, you will have to decide in each individual case. A person Concerned complained to the takeover in 2018 at the cost – and failed. The lasting effectiveness of the method is not sufficiently secured, was the Federal social court (BSG) in Kassel.

Finally, the commitment of the health insurance

Birgit Richter was still a request. Three contradictions they had to cope with. With the support of the social Association of Germany a pledge came a year and a half later. “I cried with joy,” she recalls.

Now she has three liposuction. The treated areas were then free of pain. However, in the case of Birgit Richter the Problem is shifted to the belly and the Butt. “Now I have the pain in other Places, I can hardly sit on a chair,” she says. Further operations will get back to you.

Often, several interventions are necessary

The risk that a liposuction take it any further, was, and always will, explains Walgenbach. “Under steady-state conditions, we can remove a maximum of five to seven liters, since we load the circuit too much. Often a much more morbid fat in the body, the remains, then back.” Consequently, several meetings were for many patients is necessary.

The success of the Liposuctions Walgenbach is still convinced: “It is both the body volume as well as the pain can be reduced. Most of the time we achieve a cosmetically appealing result, which plays to the Psyche of the patients, a great role.”

“We see the improvements”

Gunther Felmerer from the Universitätsmedizin in Göttingen, recommends the engagement, after the person Concerned had previously tried a year and a half long, the conservative methods are unsuccessful. “Any Operation carries with it a risk that should not be entered into lightly,” Felmerer. He holds it still, makes sense that liposuction in lipedema in the long term, in the cost catalogue of health insurance. “However, the diagnosis needs to be made clear.” Here also Klaus Walgenbach sees a Problem: “There is that other diseases have to be kept for a lipedema.”

“Finally, someone’s listening to us”

Birgit Richter, to plan the next Operation. Your health insurance company is assuming the costs. From many self-help groups, you don’t know that other women are as lucky. “You will suffer for many years, and the funds refuse,” says the judge. Therefore, they place great hope in the initiative of the Federal Minister of health, Spahn, Lipödeme to make to the Fund performance. “No one can imagine what the disease means to us,” she says. “Now, someone’s listening to us at last.”

And in fact, the goal is now a step closer: at Least the critically ill women in the so-called stage 3 to liposuction 1. January 2020 the statutory health insurance funds paid to the proposal of the Joint Federal Committee (G – BA), is for such decisions to be responsible. For women with the lighter stages 1 and 2, a possible cost should be acquisition after the completion of a randomized, controlled study.