A mum has the legs she always dreamed of after spending £50,000 on nine ops to drain a staggering 128 pints of fat from her pins.
Claire Tickle, 42, suffers from lipoedema - a painful condition which causes an abnormal build-up of fat cells in the legs, so they grow disproportionately large.
The teaching assistant tipped the scales at 28 stone - and struggled to fit into size 28 trousers and size 20 tops - when she decided to go on a diet.
She lost an impressive eight stone - but her debilitating condition meant her legs were still chunky while her top half slimmed down.
So the mum-of-one spent £50,000 on nine operations to suck out 72.6 litres of lipoedema fat - nearly 128 pints - and now has curvy size 14 legs she loves.
Claire from Eastleigh, said: ‘People were always staring at me every time I went out and I hated them thinking that I was fat.
‘I wanted to tell them it wasn't my fault my legs were so big but I couldn't.
‘It looked like someone had tied elastic bands around my ankles.
‘After the final operation, I felt extremely relieved.
‘Suddenly I felt I had the best body confidence in the world.
‘I looked at my body and realised how much I had transformed. It was the perfect moment for me.
‘For me, I was finally able to do things which I would just dream of, including playing with my ten-year-old son and going out with friends.’
Claire was aged 16 and a size 14 when she first noticed large bulges around her ankles.
‘Doctors were not sure what to do as fat continued to build up around my legs so initially, they gave me tablets for water retention,’ she said.
She grew larger and larger and was diagnosed with lipoedema in 2008.
The condition sees sufferers left with an abnormal build-up of fat cells - typically in the legs, thighs, and buttocks, and it almost exclusively affects women.
The feet and hands aren't affected, which creates a ‘bracelet’ effect or ‘band-like’ appearance just above the ankles and wrists.
Claire said: ‘After the diagnoses, my legs continued to balloon to 36 inches around my thighs by January 2014.
‘It was at this time that I weighed in at 28 stone and struggled into size 28 trousers and size 20 tops and consequently decided to go on a diet to try and shed the pounds.
‘I joined Slimming World with a typical diet of scrambled eggs for breakfast, a ham salad for lunch and rice and vegetables for dinner.
‘Over the next 18 months, I lost 4lbs a month on the upper half of my body and I could clearly see the difference.’
But at 19st and 11lb, she said her size 22 legs were still like ‘tree trunks’ compared to her size 16 top half and she added: ‘It made me extremely insecure about my body.’
Medics said the incurable condition could have eventually left her permanently wheelchair-bound, and found private liposuction was an option in June 2015.
Her dad, John, 70, retired surveyor, gave her £49,000 of the £50,000 bill while £1,000 came from crowdfunding.
Claire said: ‘My dad amazingly offered to pay the other £49,000 to help fund the treatment out of his life-savings and pension. I simply couldn't believe it.
She then travelled down to the Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull, the location for all of her operations.
‘I walked into the operating theatre ahead of the first op and was extremely nervous,’ Claire said.
The first three operations took place in April, July, and October 2016 and saw 32 litres of fat removed from Claire's lower thighs, knees and lower back.
Claire said: ‘I couldn't have everything at once, so I had to split the operations with a four to six week recovery period between each.’
Three more operations happened in January, March and May 2017, when surgeons removed a further 35 litres from her bum, upper chest, and abdomen.
Claire also had a breast reduction to even out her body shape in proportion to her 5ft 9in stature.
Claire added: ‘After each operation, I was slowly feeling significantly much better about myself and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.’
Claire had three operations in July, August and November 2017 when around six litres of fat was removed from her upper legs, and she had surgery to improve scars caused by the ops.
She had a total of 72.6 litres - or 127-and-a-half pints - of lipoedema fat removed.
She also had a tummy tuck to get raid of excess skin which got raid of 9.45kg of excess skin.
She now fits into size 14 clothes and weighs 16 stone.
It gave her the confidence to meet her partner in April 2018 through a dating website.
Claire said: ‘My condition meant that I was just simply closed off and wouldn't talk to any men at all.
‘This lasted for more than ten years but I met my first partner in May and feel much happier. I can not thank my dad enough.
‘I am pain-free and able to walk around much more comfortably and my mobility is back 100 per cent.
‘The treatment can transform a woman's life so I would certainly encourage them to have it if they can afford the cost.’