Lymphedema Treatment

What to expect when seeking treatment from our facility

Since there is no cure for lymphedema, the goal of the therapy is to reduce the swelling and to maintain the reduction. For the majority of the patients this can be achieved by the skillful application of Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). Each CDT treatment consists of four steps:

1. Meticulous skin and nail care, including the eradication of any infection.

2. Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD): a manual treatment technique that stimulates lymph vessels to contract more frequently and that channels lymph and edema fluid toward adjacent, functioning lymph systems.

3. Compression Bandaging is done immediately after MLD. Bandages are applied from the distal to the proximal aspect of the extremity with maximal pressure distal and minimal pressure proximally. This is accomplished by using several layers of materials to ensure uniform pressure distribution, or to increase pressure to areas that are particularly fibrotic. The bandages do not constrict blood flow but increase diminished skin and interstitial pressures. The bandages not only assist in progressively moving the edema but they will conform and adjust to the edema reduction, as you go through daily activities, maintaining the reduction.

4. The bandaged patient is next guided through a series of decongestive exercises.

These exercises:

  • promote increased mobility
  • promote improved endurance and strength
  • assist in edema removal from the tissues

5. Compression garment recommendation and fitting: Once fluid reduction is achieved. Compression garments must be worn to maintain the reduction. There are many types of compression garments available. Your therapist will assess your needs based on skin condition, physical abilities, and degree of severity. Based on all information, garments will be provided to the patient, along with training on donning/doffing, care and wear.

Leg compression garment

6. It is very important that the patient maintain the benefits of treatment. The patient will be educated in a home maintenance program and will always have access to one of our therapists if any needs arise.