A woman has revealed how a group of strangers saved her life after spotting an issue with her body online.
Xanthia Efthymiou has built up a huge following on TikTok and Instagram by sharing her weight loss journey, which started when she was 17 after a doctor discussed the health issues she could suffer with in the future.
Speaking to news.com.au, the 22-year-old said: "I think my main motivation was my future, I wanted to be able to be active, healthy.
"I could barely walk up a flight of stairs without being out of breath and that worried me."
It took time and some help from a specialist, but eventually Xanthia was able to hit her goals in a healthy way.
However, as she continued documenting her weight loss on social media, some people noticed that her lower half wasn't changing at all.
“It wasn’t until I was closer to my lowest weight that I realised my legs hadn’t changed, and it was frustrating,” she said.
The influencer received dozens of messages from people she'd never met before asking whether or not she'd been diagnosed with lipedema - a condition that mostly affects women, and causes excess fat to accumulate in the lower part of the body.
Lipedema can cause swelling and pain, and eventually it can impact an individual's ability to walk.
Xanthia decided to go to the doctor after reading the messages, but unfortunately he 'didn't know much about the condition' and just told her to 'lose a little more weight'.
“I ignored him and just looked online and found there was a specialist in my area and booked in with him," she explained.
"I was basically diagnosed on the spot. Lipedema has a certain look and you can tell when someone has it.
“I had to do multiple tests to confirm I didn’t have other things that come with lipedema such as varicose veins and a hole in the heart.
“These tests were so scary and I think that’s what freaked me out the most, it was very overwhelming.”
Since her diagnosis, the influencer has undergone surgery to remove the accumulation of fat in the lower part of her body, while also following an anti-inflammatory diet, wearing compression garments, getting drainage massages and walking.
“The first three days post operation were really hard, I felt really weak and had a bad reaction to strong pain killers as well, so I couldn’t take anything strong,” she told the outlet.
“But past day three, the recovery has actually been quite easy. I can walk around a lot - my bruising has gone down and I am now entering my second phase of recovery right now which means things are going to become so much easier from here."
Xanthia has been open with her 1.8 million TikTok followers, sharing her surgery progress and how lipedema has impacted her life in order to 'spread awareness' about the condition 'without making it scary'.
She continued: “I get so many messages from people every day sharing that they were diagnosed after seeing my content and that’s my main intention with why I post about it.”
“Too many times I’ve heard stories of older women getting diagnosed when it’s too late and they are no longer able to walk.
“There are many stages on lipedema, and can progress to something called lipo-lymphoedema and I hope sharing my story I can help people get the diagnosis before it’s too late."
Featured Image Credit: Instagram/@xanthia_efthymiou
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