Published: Aug. 22, 2011
Updated: Aug. 22, 2011
Lymphedema is swelling of a body part, most often an extremity, caused by the accumulation of lymph fluid. It can also occur in the face, neck, abdomen, or genitals.
When the lymphatic system is damaged, this fluid collects in the tissue. Lymphatic fluid consists of protein-rich, rather than water-based, fluid.
There are two types of lymphedema:
Goals of therapy include reduction of swelling in order to reduce potential risks for infections. Areas of the body which are chronically swollen are more at risk for infection.
This phase can last between four weeks and three months (or more with complex conditions). You will work with your therapist from three to five days a week to reduce swelling. It is important that you are consistent with your appointments. Treatment phase consists of:
Once the swelling has reduced, you will graduate from the treatment phase and move on to the maintenance phase. You may receive a compression garment to maintain the new size of the area.
This phase consists of self care:
Remember, everyone responds differently to treatment. Some patients require compression at all times and some, only a few times per week. During the treatment phase, you will learn how you respond to treatment and what type of compression you require.