A WARRNAMBOOL woman suffers from a painful and often misunderstood condition.
Connie Smith, 48, was initially diagnosed with lymphoedema when she was having difficulty losing weight.
Lymphoedema causes swelling of the arms and legs due to a build up excess fluid.
However, Ms Smith has now been diagnosed with lipoedema, a painful and abnormal build up of fat caused thought to be hereditary and a result of hormonal changes.
"I went to my doctor who initially told me I was too fat and they told me I would die if I didn't lose weight," Ms Smith said.
She said she tried to lose weight, but with no success.
While Ms Smith was relieved to be diagnosed with lipoedema, she was disappointed to find the principle treatment - liposuction - to ease her pain would cost $40,000.
"The only way you can get rid of it - it doesn't cure it but you can manage it - is with liposuction," she said.
She said the condition affected 11 per cent of women but was not covered by Medicare.
Ms Smith said the surgery was not an option for her because she was unable to work due to the condition and was getting by on a disability pension.
She said she hoped there would be greater awareness of the condition in the future because sufferers were often made to feel it was their fault they were unable to lose weight.
Lipoedema Australia states that while a good diet and exercise are important, they can have minimal affect on a sufferer's weight.
- Symmetrical accumulation of fatty tissue in legs usually from waist to ankles. Feet are not affected, with distinctive fat rings around ankles (if Lipolymphoedema is present this may differ). Lipoedemic fat accumulation can occur in upper arms, with fat ring around wrists
- Legs can be hypersensitive to touch and pressure
- Lipoedemic fat pads accumulate on upper outer thighs, inner thighs and above, below and inside the knee often causing abnormal gait and joint pain
- Loss of the concave spaces either side of the Achilles tendon
- Non-pitting edema and negative Stemmers sign on feet and hands
- Altered skin temperature, texture and appearance
- Restrictive diets have very little effect on Lipoedemic fat
- Bruising easily
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