What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a disorder of the lymphatic system that causes a person to develop swollen, heavy legs and arms. Lymphatic cancer, radiation therapy and breast cancer treatment are the most common causes of lymphedema. It is important for individuals suffering from this condition to manage it so that their quality of life does not get affected. There are standard treatments such as compression garments, self-massaging and draining that are effective in managing swelling, which can be costly at times. At the same time, there are ways to manage lymphedema more inexpensively by applying simple principles that can offer great relief.

What are the reasons for lymphedema?

In many cases, minor and/or major lymphatic vessels are disrupted by surgery, injury, radiotherapy or infection.

As a result of the damage to the lymphatic system, the remaining vessels are no longer capable of draining the fluid accumulating in tissue, and lymphedema develops.

The most common cause for secondary lymphedema in the Western world is cancer surgery involving removal and/or radiotherapy of the lymph nodes.

Any vascular surgery like vein ablation can cause secondary lymphedema as well. 

Sometimes edema does not occur immediately after cancer treatment, but several months or even years later, despite the necessary precautions being taken; a medical specialist should be consulted in such cases to rule out the growth of any new tumors.

Symptoms of Lymphedema ?

One of the common symptoms of lymphedema is swelling of the arm, leg, trunk or any body part. Swelling can stay only for a short time and it will disappear without any treatment then return again. When swelling comes and goes away, that might be the beginning of chronic lymphedema. Sooner you address lymphedema management, faster you will see results. 

Some of the common symptoms are as follow 

Heaviness on limbs

Loss of flexibility in hand, wrist or ankle

Pitting edema( Swelling in which imprint remains after light touch )

Treatments for Lymphedema 

Compression Bandages and Garments : Helps to manage lymphedema. Compression bandages help to maintain lymphedema while you are using it. 

Exercises: Exercises are very important to manage lymphedema, muscle contraction moves lymph fluid and helps to regulate fluid. Exercises have to be in the proper sequence to see the best result. 

Skin Care : Proper skin care should be the routine for lymphedema patients, it’s easy to get dry skin and dry skin can lead to cellulitis so routine skin care helps to reduce risk of infection.

Healthy Diets : Healthy weight helps to reduce risk of lymphedema, there is no specific diet that you have to follow but managing your weight helps to reduce risk of lymphedema.

Manual Drainage techniques :Manual drainage is the most effective technique to reduce lymphedema, there are many techniques available to manage lymphatic drainage, you want to make sure physical therapists are certified and experienced in manual drainage, not all therapists are expert in manual drainage. In manual drainage its proper sequence and protocol that need to be followed for best result. 

Manual drainage  after cosmetic surgeries:

Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL)

Tummy Tuck/Abdominoplasty


Fat Transfer

Arm/Leg Lift


Breast Implant

Chin Liposuction

Mastectomy/Breast Reconstruction

Research: Below is a study done by the NIH (National Institutes of Health) showing the benefits of post liposuction MLD.



Download your free ebook on 5 steps to manage lymphedema.

What will you learn from the book?

You will know best daily routine to follow up 

Self massage techniques 

What wraps and bandages  are best for you 

Steps for your routine skin care