Both of Katia Page’s legs measure four feet in circumference.
But the East Orange resident is beginning to see signs of improvement after undergoing the first sessions in a series of grueling liposuction treatments to help reduce the symptoms of her lipedema — a chronic disorder that causes fatty tissue to accumulate around her lower body.
Page hopes to prevent her legs from growing further before her upcoming wedding, tentatively scheduled for sometime next year.
“The wedding was originally scheduled for February, but then I needed emergency surgery… so I want to get my health under control first,” Page said in an interview with NJ Advance Media.
Page said her disease became visible when she was about seven years old and got worse when she reached her early twenties. She met with personal trainers and dietitians throughout her adolescence, but none of them were able to help.
“I was suffering for years, but the doctors kept saying I was only obese,” she said. “The problem wasn’t that.”
Page said the pain and infections grew to be so severe that she was taking “180 pills within 10 days.”
She was diagnosed with lymphedema in 2007, a condition of localized fluid retention and tissue swelling caused by a compromised lymphatic system, but was not diagnosed with lipedema until 2014.
But by then, her diagnosis had progressed to stage four and her legs had grown to measure four feet in circumference.
“It took a very long time to find caring doctors who knew what was wrong,” she said. Greuner plans to perform 10 to 12 surgeries on Page over the next four or so years.
Page is speaking out about her condition now to honor her mother, who passed away from complications with lipedema in September of last year.
“My mother’s condition wasn’t even as bad as mine, so it just goes to show that lipedema can take your life at any stage,” Page said. “Dr. Gruener and his staff has really saved my life because my health was getting worse.”
Last year, Karen Herbst, one of the top leading specialists for lipedema in the U.S., posted on Facebook that TLC was looking for subjects for the documentary “My Legs Won’t Stop Growing.”
“I told her I’d do it,” Page said. “She sent my info and pictures over, they reached out and the rest is history.”
A few days after her mother’s death, Page heard back from TLC network that she was accepted to be part of the television special.
“I just really want to bring awareness to this disorder, because it can go undiagnosed for so long,” Page said.
“My Legs Won’t Stop Growing” premieres tonight at 10 p.m on TLC.
*This story was originally published on NJ.com.