This twenty-six-year-old patient from Queensland says she has had ‘cankles’ for as long as she can remember and was even bullied in high school for it. “No matter how hard I tried I could never lose weight from my legs through diet and exercise. I also found cardio very difficult and uncomfortable at times, due to the heaviness and discomfort in my legs,” she says. After completing an eight week challenge at her gym, the patient says she ended up pleased with the results in her upper body, although her lower body didn’t change much. “I’ve always had a flat stomach. I’m a size 6 in my waist, however, I struggle to find jeans that fit my large thighs and bum.” She says. Due to her mother having similar shaped legs, the patient always assumed she had unfortunate genetics “Now I realise she probably has lipoedema too” the patient says.
The patient says she first heard of Lipoedema in January 2022, after watching a video of a woman on Tik Tok talk about her symptoms, and related to it a lot. After researching online, she decided to book a consultation with Dr Lekich. During the appointment, the patient was diagnosed at stage 2 Lipoedema by Dr Lekich. The patient describes receiving the diagnosis as ‘bittersweet.’ “On one hand I felt relief and validation that I didn’t hold this weight because I wasn’t doing the right exercises at the gym or eating too much. But it was devastating in another way to hear you have an incurable condition that will progress without continual lifelong management.”
The patient says the most challenging part of having Lipoedema for her, has been the way it has affected both her social and working life. As conservative management involves wearing compression garments, the patient felt that she had to hide these under long clothing, which created anxiety for her. Also, having a very active job as a paramedic, meant being uncomfortable for long periods during the day while wearing the compression garments. Although her close friends were understanding, the patient says trying to explain that you have a ‘fat disorder’ as a size 6 generated some strange looks. The patient also found eating an anti-inflammatory diet a challenge because she used to enjoy carbohydrate-rich foods on the beach with her friends. “It’s hard to explain to people” the patient says “It’s isolating because I feel like nobody understands what I’m going through. I hide my disease because of shame and embarrassment. It had definitely left me feeling down at times.”
The patient decided to proceed with surgery as she wanted to stop the Lipoedema from progressing further, and also felt that her current lifestyle was conducive to a good recovery. In August 2022, the patient underwent Lipoedema-Extraction surgery with Dr Lekich. Utilising a protocol to manage underlying venous disease and a Lymph-Sparing technique, the Lipoedema-Extraction surgery resulted in 2.2 litres of diseased fat being removed from the patient’s lower legs.
Following surgery, the patient says she has now regained a part of her life back. The patient says that although she is aware conservative management is for life, she believes it is now much easier to maintain post-surgery.