See the latest coronavirus and vaccine informationLearn about the Lancaster General Hospital Emergency Department expansion and related traffic changes.

If you have undergone a mastectomy or lumpectomy, especially with the removal of a lymph node, you may be at risk of developing lymphedema. Lymphedema is an abnormal buildup of fluid that causes swelling, usually in the arms or legs. The condition develops when lymph vessels or lymph nodes are missing, impaired, damaged or removed. Fortunately, it can be controlled with proper care and treatment.

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is an accumulation of fluid that causes swelling. This risk is higher for those who have had radiation treatment in addition to surgery. Lymphedema may appear any time after surgery—from a few months to many years after treatment.

The first sign of lymphedema is a visible, measurable swelling of an arm or leg. This swelling may be accompanied by a sensation of heaviness in the limb along with warmth and pain. Left untreated, the swelling will increase, causing the affected area to become hard and reducing mobility.

Comprehensive, Compassionate Care

We offer comprehensive cancer rehabilitation services. Our registered and certified physical medicine professionals use a simple and effective four-step approach called Complete Decongestive Physiotherapy (CDP) to help you manage your lymphedema. CDP improves central lymph flow by opening the non-functioning lymphatic system through massage. Your therapist will teach you this method during your treatment sessions, so you can continue to improve at home.

Our approach includes:

  • Hygiene and topical skin care
  • Manual lymph drainage by massage
  • Compression bandaging and garments
  • Exercise, elevation and education

Share This Page: