What is Lymphedema?
Sometimes, surgery or treatments for cancer can damage the body system responsible for draining excess fluid in your body. When this happens, lymphedema could occur.
Lymphedema is a protein-rich swelling that generally occurs in one extremity or limb. This condition may develop within a few months of a procedure, years, or not at all.
Signs and symptoms of lymphedema include:
- Recurring infections
- Aches, discomfort, heaviness, or tightness in your arm or leg
- Restricted range of motion in the affected limb
- Hardening and thickening of your skin (fibrosis) in the affected limb
- Swelling of part or all of your arm or leg, including fingers or toes (post-surgical swelling is normal for the first 4-6 weeks)
Swelling that goes away overnight is still swelling and could be the first sign of lymphedema.
Contact your oncologist at the first sign of swelling. With early detection, treatment is much more successful!
Resources & Products for Lymphedema Patients
Lymphedema is a progressive disease. But with proper care and the right resources and support, you can effectively treat and manage this condition.
Lymphedema Compression Garments
Compression garments can relieve and manage lymphoedema. These garments limit lymph fluid build-up by helping lymph fluid flow and drain from the affected limb.
We recommend JOBST It Stays, a roll-on, water-soluble body adhesive that holds compression garments in place. You can order this product online or ask your medical supply store about availability.
& Patient Supply
2860 SW Mission Woods Dr.
Doesn’t bill insurance, but offers competitive pricing.
2814 SW Gage Blvd.
Prosthetics & Orthotics
120 SW 6th Ave.
Recommended Skincare Products for Lymphedema Patients
Lymphedema can raise your risk of cellulitis, a potentially serious bacterial skin infection. Keeping your skin well-moisturized and avoiding cuts and scrapes helps prevent bacteria from entering the skin and developing cellulitis.
Ideally, patients should use fragrance- and dye-free moisturizers with a pH between four and six, such as:
- Aquaphor Lotion
- Aveeno Fragrance-Free
- Cetaphil Daily Advance Ultra Hydrating Lotion
- Eucerin Original Healing Rich Lotion
- Vaseline Intensive Rescue Skin Protectant Body Lotion
Medical Alert Bracelets
A medical alert bracelet notifies healthcare professionals of your condition if you cannot do so. This preventative measure avoids further complications by ensuring that health providers don’t use needles or blood pressure cuffs on the affected limb.
You can purchase medical alert bracelets online or at a medical supply store. When you order your bracelet, consider inscribing NO BP/IV/NEEDLES and AFFECTED arm/ CA HX.
Cotton O'Neil Lymphedema Program
Cotton O’Neil Outpatient Therapy’s Lymphedema Program teaches you how to manage your condition through diligent treatments and patient education from our team of therapists specially trained to treat lymphedema with Complete Decongestive Therapy.
Lymphedema therapy is not appropriate for everyone; talk to your doctor if you have concerns.
What to Expect from the Cotton O’Neil Outpatient Therapy Lymphedema Program
Your provider will schedule a one-hour evaluation. During this visit, you’ll discuss:
- Instruction about your lymphedema diagnosis so you can set expectations and make informed decisions about your health.
- How we work as a team to treat lymphedema symptoms and what you must do to control your condition after completing the program.
- Whether CDT is appropriate for your situation. If so, you’ll receive a bandage supply form to order your lymphedema compression bandages promptly.
Follow-up treatments begin approximately one week after your initial evaluation, so you have time to order and receive your garments. You’ll attend daily (five times per week) treatments for two to four weeks. Each visit lasts one hour and will consist of:
- Instructional exercises to encourage lymph drainage.
- Manual lymphatic drainage and compression wraps (we will ask you, a family member, or a caregiver to learn how to place compression wraps).
After your therapist determines you no longer require daily treatments, they will take measurements for your daily-use garments. These garments will maintain the progress you have made in your affected extremity. The garment’s constant compression offers a therapeutic effect by breaking up fibrotic tissue, further improving limb size.
We recommend purchasing two garments since you must wear them daily. Owning two will allow time to wash them. Until you receive your compression garment, you’ll attend three to five weekly sessions for continued compression wrapping to maintain your gains. Once you return your garment, we will discharge you from therapy.
The Stormont Vail Difference
At Stormont Vail Health, your healthcare team provides you and your family or support system with medical expertise and individual care. You have access to our cancer specialists, support groups, social workers and other services –– such as palliative medicine –– all integrated into your cancer care.