What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is an abnormal collection of protein-rich fluid that collects under the skin. Lymphedema is commonly seen in the arms or legs, but can also be seen in the head, neck, groin, or abdomen. Lymphedema is a chronic disease and is a life-long process for the patient to maintain the abnormal collection of fluid. There are two types of lymphedema: primary (people are born with it) or secondary (developed due to a damaged lymph system)

What causes Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is usually a result of a damaged lymph system in the body due to the removal of lymph nodes for diagnostic processes. Trauma, surgery, infection, obesity, and cancer all may cause lymphedema in a body region. Some people are born with lymphedema due to genetic or hereditary conditions.

How is Lymphedema treated?

Lymphedema treatment should only be performed by a certified lymphedema therapist that is trained in Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). CDT involves the interventions of manual lymph drainage, compression wrapping, proper skin care, gentle exercise and instruction in self lymphedema treatment. Our Certified Lymphedema Therapist, Julie, will help you to reduce the fluid accumulation and prevent exacerbation of this chronic disease.

What are signs & symptoms of lymphedema?

Severity of lymphedema ranges from mild to severe. 

Stage 0(Latent Stage): The lymph system is compromised, but the system is still moving fluid in the body region. There is no swelling/edema present. 

Stage I (Reversible):

Swelling will appear in the affected area. You may feel heaviness and discomfort in the region. When the swollen arm or leg is elevated, swelling will reduce. 

Stage II (Spontaneously irreversible): 

Swelling is present in the affected area. Skin is thick/hard to palpation. Skin will indent with deep pressure (pitting).

Stage III (Elephantiasis):

Swelling in the region is extreme. Skin is red, hard to touch, and shows large wart-like bulges on the skin. Affected area is very heavy and uncomfortable to move.