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!

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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 Program

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 Outpatient Therapy Lymphedema Program

Cancer surgery or treatments sometimes damage the bodily function responsible for draining excess fluid. This issue raises the risk of lymphedema, a progressive, lifelong disease involving damaging swelling of an extremity or limb.

Outpatient Therapy’s three-phase Lymphedema Program teaches you how to manage your condition through diligent treatments and patient education from our trained therapists specializing in Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT).


During this one-hour appointment, you and your provider will:

  • Discuss your diagnosis and offer educational resources about your condition.
  • Explain how we work as a team to treat symptoms and what you can do to manage your condition.
  • Determine if CDT is appropriate for you and outline your next steps.

Follow-Up Treatments

Follow-up treatments typically start one week after your initial evaluation. During this phase, you’ll attend daily treatments five times per week for two to four weeks. During each one-hour visit, you’ll receive:

  • Ongoing education about your diagnosis and treatment
  • Information about proper skincare
  • Exercises to promote lymph drainage
  • Manual lymphatic drainage and compression wraps and instructions for proper application

Maintenance Phase

After your therapist determines you no longer require daily treatments, we’ll measure you for daily-use compression garments. These garments break up fibrotic tissue, promoting drainage and reducing swelling.

Until you receive your compression garment, you will attend three to five weekly therapy sessions for continued compression wrapping. Once you return your garment, we will discharge you from therapy.

Contact for Information & Support

Cotton O’Neil Cancer Center

1414 SW 8th Avenue
Topeka, KS 66606
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Cotton O’Neil Kanza Park

2660 SW 3rd Street
Topeka, KS 66606
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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.