Lymphedema can occur when lymph nodes and lymph vessels are disrupted from surgery, cancer treatment, radiation, or trauma. Lymphedema also develops commonly with long term venous insufficiency.
Lymphatic vessels absorb proteins from the space in between tissues in our body (interstitial space). If lymph vessels cannot perform this vital function, lymphedema develops. The main difference between lymphedema and edema is the protein buildup in the interstitial space. This causes hardening (fibrosis), inflammation of the skin and fascia, and swelling of the affected area. Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) is the gold standard of care and consists of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), compression bandaging, and proper self-care for home management.
Successful treatment of lymphedema requires at least 3 days (most recommended is 5 days) a week for 2 weeks for the intensive phase. This includes MLD and compression bandaging at each session. After your limb is decongested and the lymphedema is minimal or stable, you will be measured for a compression garment to wear on a daily basis. This will allow you to keep the reduction and progress made in the clinic.
The maintenance phase begins after your compression garment arrives and we confirm that it fits you properly. We will develop a home program for you to successfully manage your lymphedema on your own. You and Kana Arreguin will decide what kind of frequency of visits you will need to maintain the health of your limb (ex. could be once every 2 weeks at first, then continue to spread out as you do well with self-management).