Jasna Tursic, 45, had spent 12 years in constant pain without ever knowing the cause. However, her life changed dramatically recently after she was diagnosed with Lipoedema, and the cure was liposuction.
What is Lipoedema?
Lipoedema is a condition that almost exclusively targets women more commonly from puberty, although post-pregnancy, peri-menopause, gynaecological surgery or extremely stressful situations can trigger the condition. It is thought to be genetic by nature, and is caused by an overgrowth of fat deposits and expansion in women of all body types and sizes, from the incredibly lean right through to the morbidly obese. It has a devastating effect on the legs (and occasionally the arms) ranging from tenderness to, in extreme cases, immobility.
“My mobility was impacted badly. I shut myself down from a social life,” Ms Tursic told FoxNews.com.
The diseased fat cells form a unique and unusual shape, normally from the waist down, to a clear and obvious line above the ankles in a bilateral, symmetrical shape. Beverly Hills liposuction surgery specialist Dr David Amron told FoxNews.com that the disease is “very specific to circumferential calf to ankle swelling…(with) heaviness on top of the knees, giving legs a tree-like look to them.”
Lipoedema misdiagnosis is common
Unfortunately for Ms Tursic, initial diagnoses were incorrect with doctors mistaking her condition for Lymphedema. While the two conditions are similar in that there is unnatural growth in the extremities, Lymphedema comes from a malfunctioning of the lymphatic systems that causes swelling by fluids, not fat. A clear sign of Lipoedema, that possibly should have alerted those doctors who misdiagnosed Ms Tursic, is that the feet are spared, which is not necessarily the case with Lymphedema.
The outlook was not good for Ms Tursic with doctors predicting a steadily declining progression culminating in becoming wheelchair bound. Her pain was so great she underwent five separate surgeries for Lymphedema and wore compression stockings for three years. Despite also changing her diet, exercising regularly, and spending a lot of money on supplements, the chronic pain persisted. Ms Tursic wasn’t to know that regular exercise and a healthy diet has virtually no effect on decreasing the amount of Lipoedematous fat in the body.
Light at the end of the tunnel
After consulting a local Utah cardiologist in March of 2012, she was finally correctly diagnosed with Lipoedema. Ms Tursic was told the best way to relieve the pain was to remove the excess diseased fat by undergoing liposuction, a common cosmetic procedure.
While there now seemed to be light at the end of the tunnel, this diagnoses created new complications. If the procedure was unsuccessful, damage to the lymphatic system was a real possibility, which could make her chronic pain and other related symptoms even worse. As such several plastic surgeons refused to perform the liposuction procedure.
Finally Ms Tursic met Dr Amron, who agreed to help.
“I was crying and said, ‘You are my last hope! Please do your best,” she said.
The day after the procedure Ms Tursic was on her feet, and her life has improved drastically since. She is off painkillers, isn’t fearful of a future life in a wheelchair as was predicted by her doctors, and exercises regularly at her local gym.
Other common treatments for Lipoedema
There is no uniform, universally accepted treatment for Lipoedema. Manual lymphatic drainage and bandaging, followed by wearing a custom fitted compression garment is one treatment administered by a Lymphoedema specialist. It is thought compression garments can reduce the pain caused by Lipoedemic fat, although it didn’t work for Ms Tursic.
Some women have seen a positive result in the reduction of pain and reversing Lipoedema by commencing an elimination diet, starting a low impact exercise regime and an herbal course of action to combat the inflammation. In Australia and throughout Europe this course of treatment has been gaining momentum.
Cosmetic surgery can be used to treat medical conditions
While liposuction is often considered a vanity procedure, there are clear cases of cosmetic procedures having enormous medical benefits. Ms Tursic is now cured of her disease, and there are no signs of the chronic pain returning.
“(The surgery) changed my life so much,” she said.
A growing number of doctors across America and Europe have used gentle water-jet-assisted liposuction, performed with tumescent local anaesthesia, to treat Lipoedema. Water assisted liposuction removes Lipoedemic fat while protecting the lymphatic system.