Six Years On From Lymphoedema Diagnosis - Victoria Talks Surgery and Deep Oscillation
Victoria was diagnosed with primary Lymphoedema in her left leg aged 19. After researching the surgical options she chose Liposuction and now manages with the Deep Oscillation Personal Sports and compression. She fits easily into her jeans and is happy with her beach appearance.
Written By Victoria Harrison
Age 25, New Zealand
2018: Self Managing Lymphoedema with the DEEP OSCILLATION® Personal SPORTS
2014: Front and Back of Left Leg pre surgery
I was diagnosed with primary Lymphoedema of the left leg in 2012 at the age of 19. I had experienced some intermittent swelling in the left side of my groin in 2011 and I had a scan which showed an enlarged lymph node. The following year the lymphoedema in my leg presented itself suddenly after a run whilst I was at University. My leg swelled from top to bottom and never returned to normal.
Like many sufferers of Lymphoedema, it took a long time to obtain a definitive diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan. After being properly diagnosed, I started treating the swelling with conservative therapies, compression garments, multi-layer bandaging, kinesio taping, manual lymphatic drainage, swimming, diet changes and a plethora of other home remedies to try and reduce the swelling in my leg and the feeling of heaviness.
Being diagnosed with a chronic condition was extremely challenging, especially as no one in my family or community had ever encountered such a thing in an otherwise healthy person. Even medical professionals could not provide explanation as to why the lymphatic system in my leg stopped working.
My family and I desperately trawled the internet and contacted specialists all over the world to try and get information about potential therapies and surgeries that might be able to help me (Lymphatic Venuous Anastomosis, Lymph Node Transfer and Liposuction)
We found PhysioPod UK and the (DEEP OSCILLATION® Personal SPORTS) in 2013. Mary and Julie were tireless in their support and arranging for their machines, initially a HIVAMAT and then a personal unit to be shipped to New Zealand for me. I began treating myself daily with the therapy for about an hour daily. I used the applicators instead of my hands to perform simple lymphatic drainage in the prescribed sequence opening up the lymph nodes in the neck, underarms, groin and then encouraging the lymph upwards on my affected leg.
The DEEP OSCILLATION® Personal SPORTS improves the quality of the affected tissue and minimised fibrosis. If I have been on a flight or on my feet for a protracted period during the day, the unit assists in clearing out any additional fluid. I carried my personal, travel size Physiopod (as I call it) across Europe while I backpacked and it was a lifesaver in the heat and after long days on my feet.
The reason I chose liposuction was after seeing Dr Munnoch in Dundee. Basically I realised that the tissue in my leg was fibrotic and could not be reversed, so if I had the LVA the volume of my leg would not change. The lymphatic function may improve but the mass would not decrease. Primarily I wanted my leg to be reduced back to its normal size so that I didn't have to carry the additional weight and have the loss of movement in my leg. The extra 3 litres of fat/fluid in my leg was taking a toll on my back and had changed my gait. There was more evidence of success with the liposuction even though it did not alter the underling issue with the lymphatics. I would be fully open to having an additional surgery at some point once LVA or lymph node transplants are more developed.
In 2015 I underwent liposuction surgery at Macquarie University in Sydney. The fatty tissue that had formed as a result of stagnant lymph was removed and my leg significantly reduced in volume.
2016 Post Liposuction, wearing 24/7 compression
The surgery dramatically changed my life and minimised the discomfort of lymphoedema. I wear compression 24/7 in order to maintain the size of my leg and am now able to bend my leg comfortably and participate fully in all activities. It is not identical to my unaffected leg, but I can fit into a pair of jeans and not be stared at on the beach!
2018 - 4 years after liposuction, no significant difference in legs
I now manage my lymphoedema through continuous compression, manual lymphatic drainage and use of my Physiopod. I am so thankful to Mary and Julie at Physipod, and all the other dedicated people who have helped me in the treatment of this condition.