Want to drop a few pounds? Reel in your diet and amp up your exercise routine. Following this advice works, until it doesn’t.
Let me explain.
To lose a pound of fat, you have to burn more calories than you take in… unless you have lipedema. Not familiar with the term? Most people aren’t, but an estimated 10 percent of all women suffer from the painful condition that makes it difficult — if not impossible — to lose weight.
“I was so frustrated,” Emily Bartley, 16, told People of her weight-loss process. “I did end up losing about 30 pounds, but after I lost the weight, it was obvious that my legs were much bigger than the rest of me.”
She was eventually diagnosed with lipedema, a fat storage disease where fat accumulates in disproportionate amounts primarily in the hips, legs and arms. Those affected typically describe having “column-like” or “tree-like” legs, according to Bartley’s doctor, Dr. David Amron.
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“At first I was shocked just to know that it was even something that I had never heard about,” Bartley said. “It made me feel good, though. I was happy that [the extra fat] wasn’t my fault.”
If that wasn’t bad enough, those affected typically experience serious pain and swelling. And there’s no cure. Bartley opted for tumescent liposuction to remove fat on her legs.
“It’s not a simple procedure,” Amron told the magazine of the liposuction. “The surgery I do avoids general anesthesia, so I do it with a conscious patient. The reasons for that are it’s a safer way of doing it, but the main reason is to get the perfect result, you have to position the patient while you’re doing it. If you don’t approach this correctly, you can damage the lymphatics.”
Lipedema is still widely misunderstood — especially in the United States — but a growing (and vocal) number of sufferers are speaking out to keep others from feeling so alone. And Bartley is thrilled with her results.
“There is always judgment when I say I’ve had liposuction because some people jump straight to conclusions thinking that I did this for cosmetic reasons,” the teen wrote on Instagram. “I did this because I still have the rest of my life to live. Lipedema held me back from living my life to the fullest.”