Theresa Fredenburg-Hinds, 36, was told by doctors that her huge legs were “just fat.” However, it turns out that she actually has a condition called lipoedema, which is an abnormal build-up of fat in the legs, and sometimes arms.
What’s surprising is that Theresa learnt this fact from a stranger, and this left her “in tears” reports The Sun.
According to the NHS, lipoedema is more common in women and usually both sides of the body are equally affected.
It is thought to be caused by hormones and usually first appears as legs that are out-of-proportion with the upper body, reports The Sun. Additionally, the legs may appear larger than expected.
The skin that is affected is reported to feel soft and cool and may be dimpled with an “orange peel” texture, The Sun explained.
Theresa says she had large legs as a child, and as she went through puberty, they grew even more. Her large legs became painful and she experienced extreme discomfort, but doctors dismissed her condition as “just fat”.
However, when she went to buy special stockings to help alleviate the pain, a shop assistant is reported to have recognised her condition as lipoedema.
“The woman working there took one look at my legs and told me I had a condition called lipoedema or lymphoedema and gave me a pamphlet to give to my doctor,” Theresa told the Daily Star.
She adds, “I’d heard of lipoedema and done my own research online, but to have it validated by this kind woman in the store I began to cry tears of joy.”
Theresa reveals that even though she went with the pamphlet to meet a doctor, she was told she was “just obese” and her condition was not even recognised.
All the same, after speaking to the shop assistant, Theresa reportedly sought specialist treatment, leading her to confirm a diagnosis of combined lipo-lymphoedema.
Lymphoedema, is caused by inefficient working of the lymphatic system, a network of vessels and glands that is spread throughout the body, informs the NHS.
It is the swelling of the body tissues, particularly the arms and legs but can affect any part of the body.
Lymphoedema which is caused when excess fluid cannot drain from the body, is a long-term chronic condition that needs to be identified and treated at the earliest. If left untreated it could get worse.
Theresa, says she wears custom-made compression stockings to control the swelling and pain, and as of now she has decided not to go in for surgery, but may consider it in the future if her mobility is greatly reduced.
Speaking about some of the challenges she faces with this condition, Theresa is quoted as saying, “I walk slower as I have to carry around my heavy bottom half with me to get where I need to go and I get tired and am unable to stand for long periods of time.”
She adds, “Finding chairs that fit my bottom can be a challenge sometimes.
“When going out in public to restaurants, theatres or appointments, chairs that have arms are often not ideal to fit my pear-shaped body.
“Climbing stairs can also be a challenge as I am lifting my heavy legs up each step.
“I know women with lipoedema commonly deal with anxiety and depression as we are so misunderstood as just being obese.”
Though her condition is reported to affect every aspect of her life, Theresa, who is married, says she’s grateful that she “doesn’t get that much abuse” but it may be because she “just doesn’t notice”.
The Sun reports Theresa shows off her “unique body” on TikTok and Instagram under the name @theresasweetpeach, with 85,000 followers.
Although at first, it was a platform for her new modelling career – now she uses it to campaign for more understanding of lipoedema.
“By showing off my body, I am helping to create awareness of lipoedema,” she affirms.