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Case Study
Feb 28
  • Jessica at our Lipoedema Awareness Photoshoot in April 2023

  • (L) Pre-surgery (R) Post-first-surgery

  • (L) Pre-surgery (R) Post-first-surgery

  • (L) Pre-surgery (R) Post-first-surgery

Lipoedema Surgery – Case 41

Meet Jessica, a 35-year-old wildlife biologist from Geelong, Victoria.  Jessica believes most women that have Lipoedema, always know that something isn’t right.  However, she says the tipping point for her came in her early thirties, after some stressful circumstances led to weight gain, and caused a progression of her Lipoedema symptoms.  “I’ve always had a disproportionate torso to legs, but part of my legs suddenly seemed more than just cellulite.”  

Jessica also describes an ‘overnight change’ at age 11 – around the time she first started her period.  Up until that point, as an active child, she had an athletic figure.  Overnight however, her legs changed to a larger and ‘heavier’ appearance with cellulite.  At the time, Jessica put it down to puberty, and continued to think that she just had ‘larger ‘legs’ – and that was how it was.  As she grew up, the heaviness in her legs continued, although Jessica says she finds it difficult to tune into that, because it was her ‘normal’.  Jessica says as her Lipoedema progressed throughout her life, it began to affect her mobility – and bushwalking and basketball became much more difficult.   

“So many people don’t realise that mental health is also a huge component of Lipoedema” Jessica says.  “Always knowing that your body looks different to everyone else’s, to what’s portrayed in media, combined with the lack of control you experience when you notice progression, can really stress you out mentally.  Plus, all the little things add up and begin to take a toll.  I go through work pants so quickly because my thighs rub together and put holes in my pants.” 

Jessica tried Microsclerotherapy to treat spider veins, which she now recognises as a common comorbidity of Lipoedema – however, she now understands that her veins had an underlying cause. 

Initially thinking she may be suffering from Lymphoedema, Jessica sought out a physio that specialised in that.  It was that physio who first suggested that Jessica may have Lipoedema.  Following her appointment, Jessica spoke with a friend about Lipoedema, who had heard of Lipoedema on social media.  Jessica also notices similar symptoms in her father’s side of the family. 

Jessica then decided to pursue an official diagnosis from Dr Lekich at Lipoedema Surgical Solution at the end of 2022, by the time Jessica received her diagnosis of stage 3 Lipoedema however, she says she had already ‘put two and two together’ and knew that she had Lipoedema.  “It was a real sense of relief” Jessica says of her diagnosis, “I always knew that something wasn’t right, so the diagnosis gave me an answer for that – but it’s also daunting because it’s a disease that I don’t control, and it can progress if I don’t manage it effectively.” 

At the time of her consultation, Jessica was also advised to undergo vein treatment due to having a backwards flow.  Jesica also suffers from hypermobility and was subsequently diagnosed with ADHD following her Lipoedema diagnosis. 

Jessica says her main reason for deciding to pursue surgery was to get back to doing the things that she loves, and to have the freedom of mobility back.  “As soon as I became aware of Dr Lekich, I could sense his passion for awareness to get the message out there, and that really spoke to me.”  Jessica also participated in a Lipoedema awareness photoshoot, hosted by the Lipoedema Surgical Solution team in April 2023 – to help raise awareness for Lipoedema. 

In the lead up to surgery, Jessica utilised daily flat knit compression, regular Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) sessions, consulted with a nutritionist to assist with a low-carbohydrate diet, used a vibration plate, compression pump and performed dry body brushing.  Jessica says her tissue has softened and feels all her efforts optimised her surgery outcome.  “I’ve definitely seen some benefits from the conservative management, although it’s also hard to tell” Jessica says. 

In June 2023, utilising a protocol to manage underlying venous disease and a Lymph-Sparing technique, a total of 4.3 litres of diseased fat was removed from the anterior of her upper legs by Dr Lekich.  Following a period of recovery, Jessica describes experiencing a ‘lighter’ feeling in her legs.  “I play basketball and just running around at basketball feels like 10 years ago – before I progressed.  I already feel a difference.” 

Subsequently in October 2023, Jessica underwent her second surgery on the posterior of her upper legs, which resulted in a further 4 litres of diseased fat being removed by Dr Lekich. 
Jessica says she felt well prepared for this surgery, given that is wasn’t her first experience this time.  “It all felt like an easier process, and it’s been interesting seeing my body change shape, it’s not yet good or bad – just a little surprising!” 

Jessica currently has her third surgery booked for March 2024, which will be on her lower legs, and a fourth surgery scheduled for May 2024 on her arms and abdomen. 

Jessica says she wants to improve her lifestyle and become more active than ever.  She also says she would like to spread awareness of Lipoedema, “It’s so important that awareness is spread – I see older women that clearly have (Lipoedema) and are struggling.  They’ve probably gone their whole lives with medical professionals telling them to lose weight – and they don’t even know that have a chronic illness.” 

Jessica shares her story so that others with Lipoedema know they’re not alone.  “The only good thing about this disease is the community of amazing people.  Connect with others, find support, and help each other out, it’s a part of the journey.” 

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