What Is Lymphedema?

Woman putting on compression stockings on legs affected by lymphedema condition Your lymphatic system is one of the main parts of your body’s immune system and ability to fight diseases and infections. Similar how your body circulates blood, lymph fluid travels through a network of vessels and ducts throughout your body and past certain organs. The fluid then returns to your lymph nodes, where it is filtered and then returns to repeat the process.

As important as this system is in your ability to fight infection, careful attention is needed, for any symptoms that may indicate a problem. One such issue that can arise is lymphedema.

Lymphedema is a build-up of the protein-rich lymphatic fluid under the skin in the fatty tissue. It is usually caused by a blockage in vessels or ducts, or other damage to the lymphatic system. Some cancer treatments that require the removal of lymph nodes or other parts of the lymphatic system also increase the risk of lymphedema.

If left untreated, lymphedema can cause significant swelling, most frequently in the legs. Depending on the severity, joint movement can eventually become restricted or even worse, blood flow can be cut-off. If not caught early enough, it can lead to skin infections, a breakdown of skin tissue, or sepsis.

The primary signs and symptoms of lymphedema include swelling in part or all of an arm or leg, a feeling of heaviness or tightness in a limb, recurring infections or hardening and thickening of the skin.

Luckily, there are many treatments available for managing lymphedema. Some non-surgical treatments include compression bandages or socks, massage therapy, physical therapy, and manual lymph drainage. Although it is rare to need surgical intervention, a surgeon may be able to transplant lymph nodes that might be causing the swelling, create new drainage paths or remove the hardened fibrous tissue causing the blockage.

If you suspect you are suffering from lymphedema or want to learn more about treatment or management, call Cosmetic and Reconstructive Specialists of Florida in Fort Lauderdale at 954-533-8029, or visit www.crsplasticsurgery.com, to schedule an appointment today. The expert doctors and staff will provide a examination and work with you to develop the best treatment plan for your situation.

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