Internationally-renowned surgeon brings awareness to Campbell health care community

BUIES CREEK — The Dr. Joseph W. Baggett Wellness Institute, part of Campbell University’s College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences (CPHS), provided a rare opportunity for faculty, students and local clinicians to engage with internationally-renowned surgeon, Dr. Josef Stutz. Stutz is a pioneer in the research and treatment of lipedema, a chronic disorder of adipose tissue and lymphatic dysfunction. Lipedema’s characteristics are defined by fatty tissues in distinct patterns in the lower extremities of the human body. It is found almost exclusively in women. Stutz provided a lecture to approximately 150 participants on Monday, August 31.
“Lipedema is a condition that affects millions of women but it is rarely diagnosed in the United States,” shared April Pope, MPAS, PA-C, clinical coordinator and associate professor of health professional studies for the physician assistant program at Campbell. “There has been very little research done on this condition and therefore there is very little supporting evidence regarding diagnostic criteria, treatment protocols and long-term outcomes for conservative versus surgical treatment. We teach all of our students (regardless of the discipline) to practice evidence based medicine, and although it is difficult to present large studies when they don’t exist, we cannot close our minds to the possibility that there may be very real conditions that have devastating physical, emotional, and financial implications for our patients even if we do not have large cohort studies to fall back on.”
In addition to his lecture, Stutz joined Pope, and Nicholas Pennings, DO, director of Campbell University Health Center and assistant professor of family medicine at the Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine (CUSOM), in the health center to observe patients from the local community. Pope will be traveling to London next year to continue to collaborate with Stutz on this condition.
“Having Dr. Stutz come from Germany to Campbell is a step in right direction for bringing lipedema awareness to practicing clinicians as well as for CPHS and CUSOM students about this disease,” said Pope. “We know that education is often the catalyst for interest, and interest is often a springboard for action, so we are hoping that our continuing education program will ignite interest in the healthcare community to promote awareness, research, and ultimately more help for patients who suffer from a disease that is unknown to the majority of healthcare professionals in the United States.”
“I came to the United States to educate colleagues on lipedema because it is surprising that so many women needed to travel to Germany for treatment,” said Stutz. “Lipedema is not a rare disease, it is just rarely diagnosed.”
Stutz has surgically treated over two thousand lipedema patients from all over the world.
“We are hoping that his visit to Campbell University will not only enlighten the nearly 150 participants, but that among our CPHS and CUSOM students, there may be some who may choose to research, diagnose, and treat a condition that is not as uncommon as it is uncommonly diagnosed,” Pope said.
About the Joseph W. Baggett Wellness Institute: Through a gift from Dr. Joseph Baggett, Campbell University’s College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences (CPHS) took a step in addressing health awareness in the local area through establishing the Wellness Institute. The primary goal of the Institute is to better educate consumers regarding health issues and inspire health care providers to encourage patients to be more proactive in their health care. It is fitting that Dr. Baggett established a fund to support the Wellness Institute at Campbell University as his father, Professor John Robert Baggett, taught at Buies Creek Academy.