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Lymphoedema - What it is

​What is Lymphoedema

Lymphoedema is an excessive collection of fluid in the leg, trunk or body part, due to disruption of the normal lymph flow. The disruption is mainly due to the removal of the lymph nodes during surgery for cancer and/or radiotherapy for cancer treatment. If you have undergone surgical removal of lymph nodes or radiotherapy, you may be at risk of developing lymphoedema.

It may be helpful to find out from your doctor which lymph nodes have been removed during the surgery and which part of the body has been treated by radiotherapy.

Lymphoedema - Symptoms

​Symptoms of Lymphoedema

Consult your doctor immediately if:

  • You notice redness or increased warmth of your leg at risk. They may be signs of infection or fungal infections.
  • You notice a slight increase in the size of your leg at risk. You may want to measure your leg monthly to monitor for changes in size.

Lymphoedema - How to prevent?

​How to reduce the risk of Lymphoedema

You can reduce this risk with the following advice and precautions:

  • Keep the skin clean, supple and moisturised. Dry and wet areas thoroughly. You may need a hair dryer for difficult areas like the skin folds and between toes. Make sure that your underclothes are regularly washed.
  • Avoid any injuries to the leg, for example, cuts, bruises, insect bites and knocks.
  • Avoid sunburn by using protective clothing and a sunscreen (SPF 15 or more). Avoid exposure to extreme heat (including use of heat packs applied locally, sauna, steam rooms, hot and humid weather.
  • The leg must not be used for injection or acupuncture, drips or having blood samples taken.
  • Removal of hair from the leg should only be done using a well-maintained electric razor. Blade razors, creams and waxing increase the chance of cuts and redness of the skin.
  • If travelling by air, a compression garment must be worn. This also applies to long bus, train and car journeys.
  • Avoid tight clothing. No redness or indentation should be visible on removal of clothing.
  • Avoid constrictive jewellery. No redness or indentation should be visible on removal of jewellery.
  • Avoid prolonged standing and high heels. When you have to stand, walk in short bursts to increase lymph flow.
  • Avoid muscle fatigue during exercise and vigorous massage.

Lymphoedema - Causes and Risk Factors

Lymphoedema - Diagnosis

Lymphoedema - Treatments

Treatment of Lymphoedema

The treatment of lymphoedema of the leg is carried out by the physiotherapist in KK Hospital.

Lymphoedema treatment includes:

  • Skin care
  • Manual lymphatic drainage
  • Compression bandaging
  • Exercises
  • Compression garments

Lymphoedema - Preparing for surgery

Lymphoedema - Post-surgery care

Lymphoedema - Other Information

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth