Lymphedema is a swelling of a body part usually occurring in the extremities. It can also occur in the face, neck, abdomen, or genitals. Lymphedema is the result of the abnormal accumulation of protein-rich edema fluid in the affected area. Remarkably, even though it afflicts approximately 1% of the U.S. population (nearly 3 million Americans), its serious nature and the problems it creates are poorly understood in the medical community.
Lymphedema can occur after breast cancer surgery if lymph nodes are removed from the underarm region. Lymphedema is treated with manual lymph drainage and decongestive therapy. Manual lymph drainage is a special massage technique that stimulates the lymphatic system to move excessive fluid out of the effected area. The fluid is then removed from the body during urination. Decongestive therapy includes skin care, wrapping the limb to prevent re-filling and exercise to encourage additional fluid removal.
This image shows the patient after therapy for lymphedema.
Notice how the dates shows a time lapse of only 3 1/2 weeks.
While patients are receiving their treatments they are also being educated in self care. This learning includes, self massage, self bandaging, skin care, exercise and helps patients become more independent.
Here are a few links to web sites where you can learn more:
The National Lymphedema Network (NLN)
Lymphedema Awareness Foundation
Become an activist for lymphedema treatment
follow this link to learn how.