A comprehensive overview of lymphedema covering subjects as symptoms, diagnostics, research, causes and pictures
Lymphedema sleeve - Compression garments
A lymphedema sleeve or a compression bandage is very important in order to ensure an external support of the skin and it can be an effective way to reduce and to control the edema. The forces created by the compression sleeves and bandages push the lymph fluid from the interstitial tissue to the lymphatic vessels and help advance the fluid more proximally. In addition, wearing a compression garment gives strength to the muscles located below, which augment the pressure of the interstitial tissue, therefore the lymph flow.
It is very important during the processing stage to maximize the reduction of swelling and to prevent the return of the liquid between treatments. The compression garment must be worn as long as the swelling persists. A lymphedema sleeve or a compression bandage must be worn during the periods of intense activity or during an exercise program.
To be effective, the lymphedema sleeve should fit snugly and should be replaced if it becomes worn.
In general, few surgical procedures give satisfactory results in the long term. Some even worsen lymphedema. The conventional multimode treatment must be used before resorting to surgery.
The liposuction worsens lymphedema because the few remaining lymph vessels are removed once with the fat. Lymphedema may also occur following surgery for aesthetic liposuction! The liposuction has been used successfully in Sweden, using very small cannulas and a very sophisticated technique, but the compression lymphedema sleeves must be worn continuously after the operation.
Prevention of lymphedema
Mechanical massage devices through compression tight the affected limb in a lymphedema sleeve or in a special boot which inflates and deflates at regular intervals. The lymph may be drained from the limb quickly, but can lead to accumulation of the lymph in the trunk, causing a feeling of discomfort. Lymph may return quickly to the affected limb after using the machine. However, such lymphedema pump can help to "soak" the affected limb tissues and it can be recommended by the therapist for this effect.
Lymphedema, secondary to the surgery or radiotherapy treatment
In patients whose cancer treatment included excision of the lymph nodes or radiation therapy the following are recommended in order to avoid or to control the lymphedema:
If the patient had performed a lymph node excision in the arm:
In the case of excision of the glands from the groin area the following are recommended:
Patients with lymphedema are advised to wear a warning bracelet. These bracelets, available through the National Network of patients with lymphedema, are worn by patients who have lymphedema, to avoid their application, inadequate treatment as taking blood pressure, injection or blood collection from the affected arm, which can worsen their condition.