A 23-stone mother is crowdfunding to have liposuction after being diagnosed with a medical disorder which has given her bingo wings.
Criana Shemar, 35, has struggled with her weight since her teens despite maintaining a healthy diet and fitness regime.
But after giving birth to her son Aaryan in 2014, the mother from Great Barr, Birmingham, was diagnosed with lipoedema.
The condition, thought to affect 10 per cent of women, causes an abnormal amount of fat cells to build-up on her arms and legs.
Criana Shemar, 35, is crowdfunding to have liposuction after being diagnosed with a rare skin disorder which causes fat to build-up in her arms and legs
After giving birth to her son Aaryan in 2014, the mother from Great Barr, Birmingham, was diagnosed with lipoedema which has given her bingo wings
It has left her in constant agony and struggling to perform basic tasks and play with her child
Her legs have now become so big she is in constant agony and struggles to get up the stairs to go to the bathroom at home.
She is desperate to have liposuction to be able to play with her child once again and ‘get her old life back’.
But Mrs Shemar has been denied treatment on the NHS because her case is not ‘exceptional’ and the procedure is considered a cosmetic treatment.
The mother, who is now trying to raise money to have it done privately, said: ‘Liposuction could change my life.
‘If I have this surgery I have been told that it won’t come back. I’ll be able to carry on working and to live a normal life.
‘At the moment I’m inside all the time because it’s too painful to go out. I have a young child and all I want to be the best mum I can be for him.’
Mrs Shemar started noticing a change in her body when she was a teenager.
Despite going to the gym multiple times a week and eating healthily she put on weight around her arms and legs.
She said she was bullied for her weight as people assumed she was ‘fat and unhealthy’.
WHAT IS LIPODEMA?
Lipoedema is the abnormal build-up of fat cells in the legs, thighs and buttocks.
It causes the legs to become enlarged from the hips to the ankles but the feet are unaffected.
The fat often creates a ring of fatty tissue overlapping the top the feet.
The skin often feels cold and bruises easily.
It can be very painful and can cause pain in the knees.
Lipoedema occurs almost exclusively in women and tends to start during puberty or pregnancy.
It’s thought to affect around 11 per cent of women.
The accumulation of fat tends to be worse in people who are obese but also affects people who are a healthy weight and dieting does not help.
The cause of the condition in unknown but there is often a family history in patients.
The only treatment known to work is called tumescent liposuction but this is not currently available on the NHS.
It involves numbing the legs before removing the excess fat.
This treatment has been shown to be highly effective and has good long-term results.
Source: NHS Choices
The mother added: ‘I was eating a standard diet, but I was putting on weight on my arms and legs. I’m not sitting here eating burgers and fatty foods.
‘Luckily I’ve always been a bright and confident person with close family and friends, so that protected me from some negativity.
‘I’ve tried every diet you can think of – Weight Watchers, Slimming World, the Cambridge Diet.
‘One year, me and my husband Bobby were going on holiday for our first wedding anniversary and I wanted to look nice.
‘I was going to the gym five times a week and doing Weight Watchers, and I did lose some weight.
‘It dropped off my face and tummy but my arms and legs and buttocks stayed the same. It was just something I began to accept.’
Confused for years about why she could never shift the weight, she was finally diagnosed in 2014.
Her son Aaryan, now five, arrived a month prematurely by emergency C-section, and her wound became severely infected.
For six months she had to visit her local surgery daily to get the bandage re-packed.
Her postnatal doctor noticed increased swelling in her legs and ankles, and gave her water retention tablets.
When Criana explained she had suffered with swollen arms and legs her whole adult life, her doctor referred her to a lipoedema clinic.
The final diagnosis of stage 4 lipoedema in 2016 left her in a whirlwind of emotions.
Mrs Shemar, who is now a size 28 dress, said: ‘I never thought it could be anything else but weight gain. But my postnatal doctor was fantastic.
‘She referred me to the clinic. I had never even heard of lipoedema. I was shocked but everything started to make sense for the first time.
Mrs Shemar was only diagnosed with the condition after giving birth to her son Aaryan in 2014 (pictured together on holiday)
‘My whole life I thought I was just fat, and all of a sudden I had a solution. I had this condition since I was a child that no-one knew about.
‘I think my parents felt guilty about that. I was so close to a cure and then it was taken away from me.’
Mrs Shemar, who has worked as a registrar at her local council for the last 16 years, has been signed off sick since November.
She said: ‘I want to carry on working. I love my job, but it’s not the kind of job you can do from home,’ she says.
‘If I don’t get this surgery I am going to lose my job in November. I’m ambitious and I want a career.’
The mother has set up a GoFundMe page in an attempt to fund the life-changing operation herself. She has raised more than £4,000 so far towards her surgery.
Mrs Shemar has been denied treatment on the NHS because her case is not ‘exceptional’ and the procedure is considered a cosmetic treatment
She added: ‘My last resort was to do a Go Fund Me page. It’s not what I wanted to happen, but this condition affects everything.
‘I have a young child and I want us to have a future together as a family. It would mean everything to me.’
Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Clinical Commission Group said it was currently reviewing clinical treatment policies, which includes a draft policy for lipodema.
A spokesman said: ‘We understand the difficulties of living with lipoedema but cannot comment on individual cases.
‘All Individual Funding Requests have to be reviewed against the same criteria to ensure patients are treated fairly and equitably.
‘The CCG is currently working with Birmingham and Solihull CCG to develop our clinical treatment policies, including a draft policy on Liposuction for Lipoedema.
‘There will be a consultation period and members of the public, professionals and providers will have the opportunity to comment on our commissioning approach.’
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