A WOMAN, who believed she was “curvy”, had more than 6.5 litres fluid drained after she discovered she had a very rare condition.
Alisa Vandercruyssen was an active teenager when her legs, arms, and stomach began growing.
She visited the doctor multiple times but was told that her weight problem is a concern and she received leaflets about diet and exercises.
Alisa claimed she was healthy. She worked out regularly and tried Ozempic. However, her limbs grew.
The condition she thinks caused her gain is around 3.5 stones.
Desperate for answers, Alisa began watching YouTube videos and started to suspect she might have lipoedema – a chronic condition of fat and connective tissue that builds up in your legs and sometimes arms.
In November 2022, she was finally diagnosed.
Alisa was told by doctors that she will need to have six operations in order to get rid of the nodules. She has already had one.
Alisa an aesthetician, from Royal Oak in Michigan, US said: “I had always been active, and I was pretty trim. But then, without changing my lifestyle, I started getting bigger.
“I was taking the Ozempic at its highest dosage for 6 months, but I didn’t lose any weight.”
You are diagnosed with obesity because it looks fat.
I saw a video about lipoedema and told my doctor that it was something I had seen.
“I wondered why I related to all she said.
“I realized I would need six or seven operations and have had only one where they took 6.5 litres from my upper legs.
It’s amazing how it can affect your life.
Alisa suffered from an unknown illness that caused her to be in severe pain.
Her everyday life was hampered by the feeling that she “was in a suit”. She had difficulty going to her job or doing other daily activities.
Alisa says: “I was under the impression that my legs were just thicker and had more cellulite.
How much does it impact your life?
Nodules can cause lumpiness. It’s like tumours forming under your skin. The fatty areas felt that way.
It’s dangerous as it is a disease that progresses. It is always growing.
Even normal daily tasks are difficult to perform when you sit on nodules.
It was hard on my knees because I was so bulky.
Alisa adopted a healthy way of life and began to love her appearance after not seeing any changes.
She claimed to be following a strict diet, and her trainer’s exercise plan. But nothing worked.
She added, “I looked back at my photos before and after six months I was worse.”
“I thought I was going to become a curvy girl and I started to embrace that.
The diagnosis was hugely reassuring, yet sad at the same because it made me realize that I missed out on a lot of fun by being so focused on my appearance.
“SAD and Lonely”
Alisa was shocked to discover what she had. She travelled to Lipedema Surgeons Centre in Roswell Georgia to undergo surgery.
Alisa had to fork out $8,000 (£6,430) for the first procedure, but the rest of her operations are covered by insurance.
She told us: “I’ve been referred to plastic surgery and I was told the only way to remove it would be through surgery.
It’s called “water assisted liposuction” and the water hose is used to break down nodules, and then it’s sucked out.
It took between two and three hours to reach the area.
Alisa, who is happy that her first surgery is behind her, said she now wants to concentrate on what she feels rather than the way she looks.
She added, “I knew how lonely and sad it felt to be inside my own body.”
“It would be wonderful to find my exact size easier in shops, and to also feel more energetic.
“It’s great to see all the muscle that I have built over these many years working.”
What causes lipoedema and what is it?
LIPOEDEMA, a buildup of abnormal fat on the arms and legs that is more common among women.
The condition can cause pain, tenderness, and a heavy feeling, which may affect daily activities.
Signs that are common include:
- A narrow waist, heavy legs and a much smaller upper body
- Unaffected feet but a large bottom and lower legs
- Fatty buildup on the arms
- The skin is soft and smooth, but may have a dimpled texture.
- The affected extremities may be tender or heavy.
- Easy bruising
- Knock your knees
- Flat Feet
- Joint problems
Although the exact cause of this condition is unknown, it could be caused by hormonal changes that occur during puberty and pregnancy.
There is no cure for this disease, but there are some treatments that can help.
- To maintain a healthy, balanced weight, you should eat well and exercise more.
- Compression stockings and bandages can reduce discomfort.
- Moisturizing your skin is important for healthy skin
- Depression can be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy or counselling
- Liposuction for fat removal