Anyone who uses the internet is aware that there's always a chance of encountering negative comments about themselves online. This is especially true for individuals who have even a modest level of fame. Strangers often make hurtful remarks on social media, frequently using fake accounts to remain anonymous. One person who has personally experienced this type of online harassment is Victoria Matosa, a Brazilian model and social media influencer. Matosa has endured bullying since childhood due to criticism about her thick thighs, and now she's opening up about the reason behind her leg appearance. She has been diagnosed with an incurable condition known as Lipedema.
Lipedema is a uncommon, long-lasting condition that mainly impacts women. Many people confuse it with obesity or lymphedema, causing those dealing with it to go through both physical and emotional struggles. Although it might seem like someone is just overweight or has cellulite, it's quite different.
What is Lipedema?
Lipedema happens when fat is distributed strangely under the skin, mainly in the legs but sometimes in the arms as well. This condition is more frequently observed in women, and it's believed to impact around 11% to 15% of women worldwide. Lipedema can strike anyone at any age, but it tends to occur more often in women during times of hormonal changes like puberty, pregnancy, the peri-menopausal stage, and menopause.
It was a considerable amount of time before Victoria Matosa, now in her late twenties, finally got her diagnosis. Ever since she was a kid, she had thicker thighs, but things worsened after she hit puberty. Folks used to tease her by calling her "penguin" because her condition affected the way she walked. She devoted countless hours to the gym and tried every diet imaginable in an attempt to shed weight from her legs. But no matter what she tried, nothing seemed to make a bit of difference.
"I started to avoid going to the beach and only [wore] leggings and jeans, which made me very uncomfortable, [as well as] distancing myself from friends out of embarrassment. Due to bullying and pressure to always be doing a lot of exercise to lose weight, I tried many restrictive diets, which resulted in me binge eating. I [used to] spend three hours in the gym until I reached exhaustion, giving up and then eating compulsively." she recalled.
After a long struggle, doctors were able to pinpoint her condition, and this has given her the strength to embrace and appreciate her body. At 26 years old, she's become a champion for body positivity and raising awareness about Lipedema. Understanding her condition has allowed her to lead a healthier, happier, and more well-rounded life.
"Before, I blamed myself for not being able to lose weight in my legs, even working out intensely. Now, I go to the gym and have an anti-inflammatory diet, but I don't feel ready to [have an] operation, as I'd have to do three liposuctions," she explained. "I feel sad and discouraged with each passing day [but] I try to accept and love myself more. I've already suffered a lot of bullying on the internet, people didn't like me because of my weight and my body. I got tired of receiving messages of curses that only had the objective of hurting me. This continues to be routine in my life, only different than before, because I don't let these people make me feel like a monster but in my love life, I've been very lucky."
Causes of Lipedema
At present, the exact cause of Lipedema remains a mystery. Nevertheless, experts suspect that there are genetic and hormonal factors at play in the development of this disorder. Lipedema is frequently linked to hormonal shifts like those during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, pointing to potential hormonal influences. Additionally, some believe that traumatic events like injuries, surgeries, or infections might trigger the onset of Lipedema.
How Lipedema differs from Cellulite
Lipedema is frequently confused with a really tough kind of cellulite, but that's not quite right. Even though both cellulite and lipedema mess with fat cells, they come from different places and need different treatments.
Cellulite can crop up for various reasons, like hormones, your genes, and how you live. That bumpy "orange peel" look happens because there are these connective bands between your skin and the stuff underneath it. When those bands get tight and tug at your skin, it makes those dimples. On the other hand, Lipedema is when your fat cells go haywire and start gathering extra fluid and fat in odd places.
Symptoms of Lipedema
The first thing you'll notice with lipedema is that certain parts of your body, like your legs and arms, start piling on fat in a way that makes them look kind of like they're wearing a "bracelet." It's not just about looks, though – this condition can hurt, especially if you give it a poke. It might make you feel tender, itchy, or even leave you with bruises. Lipedema can also mess with how you move around and do your daily stuff, and it might bring along some anxiety, sadness, and make you feel not so great about yourself.
Treatment Of Lipedema
When it comes to dealing with lipedema, the treatment can vary depending on how bad it is. The key is to get the right diagnosis as soon as you can. Getting it right from the start can stop things from getting worse and kickstart the treatment process early on. To tackle lipedema, you might need a team of experts – like a doctor, someone who knows about the lymphatic system, a nutrition expert, and even a mental health pro – all working together to help you out.
1. Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD): This is a special massage method done by a trained lymphatic therapist. It's all about making your lymphatic system work better, easing swelling, and helping with pain.
2. Compression Garments: Wearing compression clothing like stockings, leggings, or sleeves can slow down how lipedema gets worse, ease pain, and keep you comfy.
3. Exercise Plan: When dealing with lipedema, it's important to have a workout routine that centers on gentle activities like walking, swimming, and biking.
4. Eating Right: The best approach is to stick to a balanced and wholesome diet. It can help you keep a healthy weight and cut down on inflammation.
5. Surgery: In really serious situations, you might need surgery to get rid of those big lipedema fat buildups. Surgeons use different methods, like liposuction, to take out the extra tissue.
The Bottom Line
Lipedema can really throw a curveball at many women, often without getting a proper diagnosis. If you notice that your legs are carrying too much fat and it's causing you pain, it's super important to reach out to a healthcare pro. Finding treatment options early can stop things from getting worse and make your life better. When women with lipedema get help early and get the right treatment, they can handle the condition well.