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Lymphedema is chronic swelling that can occur in the arms, legs, head/neck, trunk, pelvis, and breast after cancer treatment (secondary lymphedema). Lymphedema can also occur from adolescence or birth (primary lymphedema). Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) can progress into lymphedema called, phlebolymphedema. Our Certified Lymphedema Therapists (CLT's) have specialized training to address your area of swelling. There is no cure for lymphedema and it can progress, so it is best to get treatment as early as possible. 

The gold standard for lymphedema treatment is Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). There are two phases of treatment: phase I (the intensive phase) is designed to quickly reduce your swelling and it is recommended that you attend treatment 5 days per week, phase II (the maintenance phase) involves you maintaining the size of your limbs with the tools you learned in phase I. These phases both include:

  • Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) - a type of tissue stretch massage technique to assist movement of fluid.

  • Compression (garments and/or bandages) - compression bandaging is used to quickly reduce the size of swollen limbs in the intensive phase of treatment. Compression garments are then used to maintain the size of your limb in the maintenance phase of treatment.

  • Skin Care - lymphedema can cause skin to break down and become dry leading to increased risk of infection. The use of low pH lotion and soap is important to decrease risk of cellulitis. 

  • Exercise - the pump for your lymphatic system is your muscles, without movement your swelling will not sufficiently move to where it needs to go.

  • Education on self care - living with lymphedema can be challenging. Our therapists will give you the tools to help you efficiently manage this lifelong condition in a way that works best for you.

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