About this disease
What it concerns
Swelling that occurs after an injury or surgery normally resolves if the lymphatic system is intact. However, if it is a severe injury with scarring or an operation with lymph node removal, such as in breast cancer, the lymphatic system may become insufficient. This means that due to the injury of the lymphatic channels or due to missing lymph nodes, the accruing water and protein load can no longer be managed and thus an edema develops. This is referred to as secondary lymphedema.
Primary lymphedema is due to a developmental disorder of lymphatic vessels and/or lymph nodes. Secondary lymphedema results from an injury to the lymphatics or after the removal of lymph nodes. Lipedema is a bilateral and symmetrical spongy swelling of the legs due to increased fat deposits.
Symptoms and consequences
At the beginning, only a small swelling is visible, which recedes overnight. Over time, the swelling becomes larger, expands and does not regress overnight. In addition, the edema becomes harder because of the so-called fibrosclerosis, a change in the tissue. The longer the lymphedema is not treated, the more it expands and the tissue becomes more fibrotic.
How we can help you
Examination and diagnosis
Clinical examination reveals swelling and thus an increase in the circumference of the affected body region. By pressing into the swelling, a short-lasting dent is evident, which is due to protein deposits in the tissue.
To treat lymphedema, complex physical decongestive therapy should be performed in physical therapy. Specifically, lymphatic drainage, lymphatic bandages, and lymphtape are used to reduce the edema. To maintain the reduced swelling, compression therapy with fitted stockings is essential.