Friday, September 9, 2016

Former Aussie model's leg ballooned, 'doubled in size' after pregnancy

A former Perth model, who was pregnant when her leg doubled in size, has been diagnosed with an incurable condition, Lymphedema, but is determined to "find a cure".

Sarah Buller lives in Nice, France with her husband Bruce and her two children Jagger and daughter Charlie, WA Today reports. The 31-year-old mother's left leg grew when she fell pregnant with Charlie in April 2013. Her limb weighed in at about 12 kilograms, while her right leg remained unaffected. Ms Buller believes Lymphedema is a "mistreated and misunderstood pathology” and created a blog and YouTube page to raise awareness of the condition and "instigate more research, better treatments and ultimately a cure”.

The mother-of-two noticed inflammation in her left groin area while pregnant with her first child and thought it was due to “normal pregnancy swelling," Ms Buller wrote on her blog. However, within a few weeks her whole leg had "blown up” and she went to see doctors and had blood tests, assessments and ultrasound scans done. Doctors didn’t know what caused the swelling and said it would go away after she gave birth. "Unfortunately, it did not go away after giving birth and I was diagnosed with Primary Lymphedema a few months later," she wrote.

Ms Buller said she began to feel “depressed and isolated”, which is the biggest impact the chronic condition has on her. The stubborn mother barely knew anything about Lymphedema and when she fell pregnant with her son in 2015 it worsened and caused her to take action. Ms Buller has spent countless hours researching ways to take the swelling down and in May this year, Ms Buller underwent a Vascularised Lymph Node Transfer operation.

She told the newspaper she sold the family car and spent $22,369 worth of savings on the surgery performed by Dr Corinne Becker in Paris. According to Ms Buller, the surgery consisted of "microsurgeons reconnecting the artery and vein to new blood vessels in the axilla to provide vital support to the lymph nodes while they develop their own blood supply". Ms Buller documented the first few weeks after surgery and showed her condition improving post surgery. On top of having surgery, the mother also spends hours every day changing compression garments, exercising and elevating her leg.

Ms Buller also has daily manual lymphatic draining massages at a physiotherapist and must take supplements to get rid of excess fluid. The brave mother told the newspaper she wants Lymphedema sufferers to know they can wear anything and still look beautiful and urges others to not "hide yourself away".

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