01.08.2023 – 07:30
medi GmbH & Co. KG
Pregnancy is an exciting and joyous time for many expectant mothers. However, it is also associated with physical and hormonal changes. For women like Vanessa Gerats who suffer from lipoedema, many questions arise in advance: How can lipoedema affect the course of pregnancy or how can pregnancy affect lipoedema? Are the complaints increasing? Can therapy with medical compression continue without any problems? Could the baby inherit the disease? In an interview, Vanessa Gerats reports on how she lives with her “lipoedema” diagnosis and what influence the disease had on her pregnancy.
Dear Ms. Gerats, first of all, congratulations on the birth of your son. How did you fare during your pregnancy?
“Basically good. In the first twelve weeks, however, I felt weak and exhausted – in the second trimester it decreased again. According to my midwife, this tiredness is normal, the body adapts to the new role as a mother: the hormone balance changes, “The blood volume is increasing and the metabolism is running at full speed. Towards the end of the first trimester I had a small flare-up of lipedema, which gave me increased pain in my legs for two weeks.”
What have you done about it?
“The manual lymphatic drainage that I get once a week was incredibly beneficial. I also massaged the tissue regularly myself – that also brought relief.”
How long have you known that you suffer from “lipoedema”?
“I was only diagnosed three years ago in spring 2020. However, I have had pressure and tension pain since my puberty or since I was prescribed the pill. It was noticeable that since taking it regularly, my thighs have increased in size, but my stomach and waist stayed the same – within three months I gained twelve kilos. However, there is no clinical evidence that lipoedema can be caused by hormonal contraceptives. It was a difficult time for me – I was faced with some prejudices and hostilities Classmates: exposed. Unfortunately, I didn’t dare to wear the clothes I liked, but only wore trousers that were at least above my knees. I lacked the self-confidence I have today!”
Have you experienced any other symptoms apart from pressure and tension pain?
“My legs got cold incredibly quickly, especially when I went for walks in winter, they hurt and only returned to their normal temperature hours later. I always thought I simply had tissue that had poor blood circulation.”
How did you get the diagnosis “lipoedema”?
“I was in the sauna with my sister-in-law and she approached the subject sensitively because she knew the clinical picture from a friend. She said I had such a slim figure, only the legs didn’t match the rest of the body. At home I have I immediately studied the clinical picture on the Internet and the treatment options. When I saw photos of lipedema in the third stage and understood that the disease cannot be cured, I was shocked. During my further research I came across the website of Caroline Sprott, also a lipedema Affected people. I loved their colorful pictures with medical compression supplies! The looks looked fashionable and Caroline radiated an amazing self-confidence and happiness. And I thought, even if the diagnosis should come true, you too can live with it !'”
Was that the case?
“When my vascular surgeon confirmed the diagnosis, I felt helpless for a short time and initially cried in the parking lot in front of the practice. But the support from my family was incredible – especially my current husband was always willing to listen, was optimistic and extremely understanding. He said, I should get involved in the therapy and be good to myself. He loves me the way I am – together we can do it! I then searched online for other people who were affected and discovered, for example, Vanessa Reins’ page ‘Rund und sporty’. To see how much positive life energy other sufferers radiate was encouraging and inspiring at the same time.”
Did you choose a trend color when you received your first medical treatment?
“No, I wasn’t that brave. I got comprehensive advice from the medical supply store, for example also about accessories, and finally decided on skin-colored mediven cozy tights with closed toes. My husband would have liked the more eye-catching colors better, but I I slowly had to feel my way forward. I now love the expressive mediven colors! My favorite was the last trend color mango yellow! But raspberry red is also a highlight. It can’t be conspicuous enough now and I also dare to use design and fashion elements.”
At the beginning you talked about manual lymphatic drainage – did you only get it prescribed during pregnancy or after the diagnosis?
“After the diagnosis, I read everything in the literature that was available about the disease lipedema. I wanted to exhaust all possibilities to deal with the disease better. That’s why, with the support of my doctor, I applied to the German Pension Insurance for inpatient rehabilitation, which was also approved immediately. The focus of the rehab was primarily on an intensive form of complex physical decongestion therapy with manual lymphatic drainage, bandaging and skin care – supported by nutritional and exercise therapy as well as psychological support. Based on the discharge report, my family doctor gave me a prescription for manual lymphatic drainage prescribed once a week. And I’ve been happily using it ever since.”
Do you explicitly pay attention to your diet because of your lipoedema?
“Yes, my husband and I are mostly vegetarians and try to eat as healthy and balanced as possible. I’ve been going to a beautician regularly for the past three years and was advised that foods like pork, dairy and wheat can increase inflammation in the body. We value high-quality, fresh food – fruit, vegetables and whole grain products are regularly on our plates. And I notice how good the changeover is for me and my body. But everyone affected should decide that for themselves.”
You have just had your first son – did the diagnosis of lipoedema affect your family planning?
“It was always clear to us that children are part of our lives! Of course, I was very worried and had a lot of thoughts in advance: the hormonal change could aggravate the lipoedema, the lipoedema could have a negative effect on my pregnancy, my fingers and legs swell more due to water retention or I might no longer be able to put on my medical compression garments myself. However, what concerned me most was whether it would be a girl and possibly inherited the disease.”
Have you sought medical advice on this?
“First I did extensive research on the Internet and then spoke to my husband – he took my fears away. We couldn’t influence it anyway and would deal with it if the case should arise. In addition, the exchange with my midwife was important to me – she was a great support!”
Did you also carry any special medical supplies for pregnant women?
“Yes, due to my changed circumference measurements, I was prescribed additional medical care at the end of the first trimester. I was also allowed to test the optimized mediven cozy maternity body part from medi.”
What was your summary?
“The maternity body was super comfortable to wear and very soft! The upper zone is elastic and my belly had enough room to grow. The lower area supports well, which reduced the pressure felt on the hips, especially towards the end of pregnancy. As soon as When I took off the compression garment, my legs hurt when I moved. I really loved wearing the body part during my pregnancy – I felt completely wrapped up.”
To what extent was it possible for you to do sports or exercise during pregnancy?
“Before, I really enjoyed dancing Zumba and rode mountain bikes. Thanks to the knee functional zone, which my specialist in the medical supply store recommended to me, this was initially possible without any problems, even with medical care. Unfortunately, my Zumba course was discontinued and mountain biking was no longer for me too dangerous as the pregnancy progressed. Instead, I attended a weekly aqua fitness class at my midwifery practice, which I really enjoyed. In addition, I often went for walks in the fresh air.”
For some time now you have also been speaking openly on Instagram about your illness and your pregnancy – why did you take this step?
“The diagnosis of lipoedema is still not well known and those affected are unfortunately exposed to many prejudices. It often takes years or decades before those affected receive their diagnosis and can start treatment. The more people educate themselves and exchange ideas, the more this will happen Raised public awareness. And I want to make my contribution to this. That’s why I decided two years ago to share my story and do educational work on World Lipoedema Day on May 18, 2021. And if I with my If I only reach a few people on a small platform, who are more informed as a result, I have gained a lot! I would like to clear up myths that take away the fear of the disease and encourage other affected people to be open about themselves.”
Dear Ms. Gerats, thank you very much for the insight into your very personal story and I wish you lots of joy with your little family!
Intended purpose mediven® cosy: Flat-knit medical compression stocking for compression of the lower extremities, mainly in the treatment of diseases of the lymphatic system.
medi GmbH & Co. KG
Communication & PR Managerin
Phone: +49 921 912-2819
Original content from: medi GmbH & Co. KG, transmitted by news aktuell