At the urging of her father, this 33-year-old patient from Queensland underwent a casual check for varicose veins, but the doctor’s assessment revealed she carried Lipoedmea as well. She had no knowledge about Lipoedema until her consult and was initially taken aback, “I grew up as a national level swimmer, during which time I presented no symptoms of Lipoedema – my BMI always sat around 16/17 and I was super fit! … I will admit, given my workload running busy businesses and working out everyday, I did notice minimal swelling in my legs which I honestly just put down to spending long days on my feet!”
“I guess this just goes to show that Lipoedema doesn’t discriminate, and the importance of early diagnosis is highlighted,” the patient says.
The patient was diagnosed with stage 1 / early stage 2 Lipoedema with secondary lymphoedema. The suprise diagnosis was tough on the patient, she had an active lifestyle from swimming and maintained a low carb diet all her life, doing the ‘correct’ things to stay healthy, but was just unfortunate to be diagnosed with a condition which doesn’t respond to conventional diet or exercise. Despite the emotional burden, the patient was ultimately glad she had discovered the disease saying, “as upsetting and shocking as it all was, I feel incredibly grateful that they are things that can be fixed, and also that I am in a position to be able to fix them. Not to mention how lucky we are in this country to have access to such incredible doctors.”
Overall, she feels lucky to have caught the disease early before it had a chance to progress with painful physical symptoms, as well as being able to meet the right people to treat the disease in a way which satisfied her. The main challenges she suffered were the “back to back procedures and the recovery process,” as before any Lipoedema surgeries could be performed she had to undergo treatment for varicose veins as well as a hole in the heart (PFO) closure. Venous dysfunction is typically a comorbidity with Lipoedema, and a hole in the heart can potentially cause a fatal fat embolism during certain procedures such as liposuction or orthopaedic surgeries.
As part of the Lipoedema Surical Solution protocol the patient underwent two separate minimally invasive vein treatments as well as a PFO closure from a cardiologist before she was deemed a surgical candidate. She remarked on handling the mental toll, “I’m fortunate to have a strong support system around me to keep my spirits up.” Despite the hurdles, the patient was able to undergo her first Lipoedema-Extraction surgery with Dr Nicholas Teo, 8 months after her initial diagnosis. Utilising a protocol to manage underlying venous disease and a Lymph-Sparing technique, a total of 1.8L of Lipoedema fat was removed bilaterally from her lower legs, reflected in the photos above, followed by a second procedure on her upper legs 2 months later removing a total of 2.4L of diseased fat.
The patient is looking ahead, “I am completely free of Lipoedema, my heart is fixed, and my veins are working as they should, I plan to put this behind me and leave it in the past and get back into life!! I can’t wait to get back into the pool and feel confident in my body knowing I’m the best and healthiest version of myself – inside and out.”