Lymphatic Therapies

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is an accumulation of fluid in tissues causing swelling, most often in arms or legs although it does occur in other parts of the body. This is due to lymph vessels that are either damaged or missing or when lymph nodes have been removed. When the drainage of the lymph fluid is impaired, it can get congested and collect in the tissues and cause swelling. If left untreated, the protein-rich lymph fluid increases and causes more swelling , the skin begins to break down causing poor wound healing and a hardening of the area occurs.

Lymphedema can occur due to the result of surgery, radiation, infection or damage to the lymph system. This can occur days, weeks, or years later. It can also occur from a congenital malformation.

Lymphedema is a life long condition which requires you to do long term management.

What does lymphedema feel like?

Your skin may feel tight.
You may notice that your jewelry or clothes such as rings, necklaces, socks, shoes or watches seem tighter.
Less flexibility in your hand, wrist or ankle.
A full or heavy sensation in limbs or area of the body.
If you notice persistent swelling, seek medical advice immediatly.

What should you do if you see or feel swelling?

An early diagnosis is important and greatly improves the prognosis and your general condition. Remember to get a second opinion as many doctors are not familiar with Lymphedema.

Stages of Lymphedema

Latency Stage – no swelling, excess fluid begins to build up; “normal” tissue consistency
Stage I – tissue is soft and pitting, no secondary changes; elevation reduces swelling
Stage II – hardening of the tissue; difficult to achieve pitting; frequent infections
Stage III – extreme increase in fluid buildup and hardening of tissue with typical skin changes

What is the treatment for Lymphedema?

The gold standard for addressing Lymphedema is Dr. Vodder’s Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). This is a 4 part therapy:
1. Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD)
2. Compression Bandaging
3. Skin and Wound care
4. Exercises
You may need all or part of this treatment depending on the nature of your condition.

What is a Manual Lymph Drainage session like?

The one word for an MLD session is “relaxing”. The lymph vessels are often just below the skin so we use a very light pressure, about the weight of a nickel. Using rhythmic, gentle movements, we seek to create a very relaxing treatment , often slower and lighter than your usual massage. This is the most effective treatment for Lymphedema. It stimulates the lymphatic system to increase lymph flow as well as redirecting the flow around any damaged vessels or nodes.

Other Benefits of MLD:

Sinusitis, Allergies, Migraines- drains blocked, congested sinuses & puffy eyes
Pre and Post Surgical Swelling Reduction- decreases swelling faster due to surgery. Post- plastic surgery swelling- helps increase the positive results of your surgery and heal faster.
Burns, Scars, Acne – speeds healing and minimizes scar formation. Chronic pain, Fractures, Sprains and Strains- increase healing time, flexibility and decrease pain.