Laura is a forty-two-year old patient from Mackay, Queensland, who says her weight had been a constant battle for her since puberty. Despite competing in swimming and netball, Laura spent most of her teens on some form of a diet, including Weight Watchers, where she was weighed in front of a room full of people on a weekly basis as a teenager. Laura says she always had bigger legs, or ‘fat knees and thick thighs’ as her mother called it. Her legs appeared lumpy and constantly felt heavy and sore to touch. “Lipoedema has caused me a lifetime of pain, physically and emotionally” Laura says. Laura also recognises similar symptoms in her mother and grandmother.
Over the years Laura says she had tried everything to lose weight and just couldn’t, “I was at breaking point” she says. Duromine tablets and Saxenda proved only to worsen her relationship with food which was already ‘next to nothing’. Laura says she would hate to think of the money she’s spent on failed diets over the years, “probably thousands.”
Two failed knee operations in 2017 and 2018 led to Laura gaining a lot of weight, and subsequently agreeing to undergo gastric bypass surgery on her doctor’s advice. Although Laura lost 50kg of weight as a result of this surgery, her legs remained large and she felt it ‘definitely was not normal’. Laura felt there must be an issue with her venous system due to the constant swelling in her legs, so she booked an appointment with a phlebologist (vein doctor). At this appointment she was referred to Dr Lekich who confirmed her Lipoedema diagnosis. “I remember sitting there that day (after receiving the diagnosis) feeling as though I should cry from happiness that I finally had answer to the years of torture” Laura says.
Following a period of conservative management, Laura decided to undergo surgery. In September 2021 Laura underwent her first Lipoedema-extraction surgery on her upper legs, utilising a lymph-sparing technique that ensures the fat does not return, 6.3 litres of diseased fat was extracted by Dr Lekich. The following year in June 2022, Laura subsequently underwent her second surgery on her lower legs, resulting in 3.2 litres extracted by Dr Lekich.
Laura is determined to use her journey as education for others, especially her own daughter. By raising awareness through her business and social media, Laura hopes to inspire others to take control of their Lipoedema early on, both physically and emotionally. “I want to show my daughter what life can be like. Even though life throws us curve balls, I want to be fit and healthy and encourage my daughter and others to seek the help they need.”