Saturday, March 17, 2012

LYMPHEDEMA FOLLOWING BREAST SURGERY

Lymphedema can occur after almost any kind of breast surgery.


It usually occurs after a modified radical mastectomy. It can occur after a lumpectomy or simple mastectomy. There have been reported cases after breast reduction or rarely breast augmentation, neither one of which I have seen in 33 years of practice as a Fort Myers Plastic Surgeon.


Lymphedema can occur almost immediately after surgery or years later. Usually it manifests as non-painful swelling of hands, fingers or arms. The patient may complain of tightness – or heaviness.


Lymphedema can NOT be cured so we treat it symptomatically. The normal course of therapy is a technique of complete decongestive therapy (CDT) provided by a certified lymphedema therapist. There are things a patient can do to help control lymphedema – good nutrition, good skin care, exercise, maintain a stable weight. If there is a lot of swelling keeping the extremity elevated – wearing compression garments – avoid repetitive exercises of the involved extremity. Several sites to go to for help include:


1. National Lymphedema Network www.lymphnet.org

2. Lymphology Association of North America www.ch-lana.org

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