Leisa says she only became aware of Lipoedema for the first time five years ago, once she was diagnosed. She says it was a relief in a way to receive the diagnosis, as she could never understand why her legs were so disproportionate to the rest of her body. “My sisters and I would always joke that our tree trunk shapeless legs belonged to our family. In a way, I now know they do” Leisa says.
Leisa noticed the first of her symptoms as a teenager, thick legs. She played a lot of netball and basketball and wondered why her muscles weren’t defined like the rest of her teammates. Following her two pregnancies by age thirty-two, her legs were disproportionately bigger than the upper half of her body despite maintaining a healthy diet. Although not overweight, her legs ached more and more, especially at the end of the day, this ache and heaviness became worse as Leisa approached menopause.
At age 50 Leisa decided to sign up for a 1km ocean swim with some friends, with the swimming training helping to relieve some of the ache. Although she achieved the swim three years in a row, she remained pedantic about any photos being posted to social media, and felt the need to cover her legs immediately after swimming.
Leisa says all of her symptoms began to make sense once she was diagnosed with Lipoedema – thick ‘cankles’, heavy legs, vein issues, aching legs, little waist and significant changes at puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Following her diagnosis Leisa began to wear light compression stockings, then trialled and bought herself a compression machine. Although she could feel a small improvement, she began to consider surgery around four years after her initial diagnosis.
Leisa regularly underwent Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) Therapy with Brisbane based therapist Kaori Langley, and says that helped her legs to feel light and kept her going. Following a visit to Dr Lekich at the end of 2020, Leisa became adamant that surgery was the path for her, and wore flat-knit compression stockings for six weeks prior to undergoing surgery.
Leisa underwent her first surgery in August 2021. Using a Lymph-Sparing technique, developed in Germany by Dr Heck, Dr Lekich removed 5.3 Litres of fat from Leisa’s lower legs. At around eight weeks post-op, Leisa was back to her swimming training for the next year’s ocean swim, though this time she says her legs feel so much lighter and the constant ache had gone.
Leisa says it’s still an incredible feeling to look down and see her new legs, and recently purchased a knee length skirt – “Such a small thing, but monumental in my eyes” she says.
Leisa says she now feels lighter in her legs, and also on her outlook of life. “My legs weighed me down physically, emotionally, and psychologically for so many years that this is like a huge weight that has been lifted.” Leisa looks forward to undergoing a subsequent further two surgeries on the upper half of her legs in 2022.