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Case Study
Jul 07
  • 13.5 cm loss in calf dimensions following conservative management and

Lipoedema Surgery Case 23

Misty is a sixty-one-year-old retired nurse who was first made aware of her changing legs in her early teens. After her mother poked her legs and told her she was getting fat, Misty began her first diet at fourteen years of age, and says her life has been full of ‘failed’ diets since then. After having her two children in her early thirties, Misty says her ‘nana’s legs’ just got worse, especially following the common dietary advice at the time, calorie-restrictive dieting. Misty believes this caused her weight to drop off for a while, only to subsequently balloon following cravings and binge eating. Despite the constant fluctuation in her weight Misty says her legs remained disproportionately big, and pain and bruising began to develop. “My life revolved around my failure to control my eating and my size. Behind everything I was fat, ugly, lazy and a failure because I could never stay slim, could not buy clothes to fit, could not go out anywhere with my ‘nana’s legs’ showing” Misty says. Menopause saw Misty’s pain continue to increase and she says even holidays were impacted by her discomfort.

Misty says she first heard the term Lipoedema around ten years ago, and believed that nothing could be done about it. A couple of years ago at a GP appointment however, Misty was told that she had Lipoedema. “I denied it” Misty said “I guess I just wasn’t ready for a discussion or diagnosis yet.” By January 2021 Misty was constantly exhausted, overwhelmed and in pain with her legs which remained swollen and tight. With her life starting to ‘shut in’ around her, and fearing her husband may end up with a disabled wife, Misty began to search for Lipoedema online and booked an appointment to see Dr Lekich.

Misty was diagnosed with stage four Lipoedema at her consultation with Dr Lekich, and says that while it was difficult receiving the formal diagnosis, it also created a huge shift in her mindset. She began her conservative management plan straight away, and says she felt an immediate relief of pain and inflammation. Following vein treatments in December 2021, Misty was ready for surgical intervention. In March 2022, Misty underwent her first Lipoedema-extraction surgery on her lower legs, utilising a protocol to manage underlying venous disease and utilising ultrasound and lymph sparing techniques, 8.1 litres of diseased fat was extracted by Dr Lekich. In May 2022, Misty subsequently underwent Lipoedema-extraction surgery on her anterior thighs, which resulted in a further 3.6 litres of diseased fat being extracted. In July 2022, Misty underwent her third surgery on her posterior thighs which resulted in another 5.8 litres of diseased fat being removed. It is now expected this fat will not return.

Following her recovery, Misty says she most looks forward to wearing dresses and boots again, swimming in public and sitting comfortably. Misty says “I was a nurse for forty years, and I knew nothing about Lipoedema. I have been to see doctors who knew nothing of Lipoedema, and that is shameful. I am proud to be a part of the push to make Lipoedema a recognised medical condition in this country.”

Misty says her maternal grandmother had stage three and four Phlebo-lipo-lymphoedema, and was severely disabled by the condition. Misty also has two maternal aunts and a cousin with late stage Lipoedema. Her paternal grandmother and aunty also have “heavy legs”.

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