Treatment

With early detection, diagnosis and the right treatment you can manage lymphedema and prevent it from getting worse. Early treatment leads to the best health outcomes.


Getting lymphedema diagnosed and assessed can lead to effective therapy and the advice you need to manage your lymphedema.
The gold standard of lymphedema management includes Combined Decongestive Therapy (CDT) given by a certified lymphedema therapist such as Allison. She will assess your lymphedema and then decide on your treatment program.

Lymphedema Therapy includes:

  • Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD): a special form of massage that re-directs lymph flow. MLD is a gentle manual treatment technique that improves the activity of the lymph vessels by mild mechanical stretches on the wall of the lymph collectors. MLD re-routes the lymph flow via tissue channels and lymph vessels around the blocked areas into more centrally located lymph vessels that eventually drain into the venous system.
  • Compression therapy: the use of compression garments (e.g. elastic bandaging, sleeves, gauntlets or tights) to control swelling. The elastic fibers in the skin are damaged in lymphedema. In order to prevent reaccumulation of fluid, it is necessary to apply sufficient compression to the affected extremity. Compression therapy also improves the function of the muscle pumps, helps to reduce fibrotic tissue and promotes venous and lymphatic return.
  • Education: to learn about how best to manage lymphedema. See my Favorite Links Page for more information and resources.
  • Exercises: to promote lymphatic flow. We will design a customized exercise program for you. These decongestive exercises aid in the effects of the joint and muscle pumps and should be performed while wearing the compression bandages or garment. Vigorous movements or exercises causing pain must be avoided. Exercises should be performed slowly and with both the affected and non-affected extremity.
  • Skin care: to prevent infection. The skin in lymphedema is very susceptible to infections and usually dry. A low-pH lotion (ideally around pH5), free of alcohol and fragrances should be used to maintain the moisture of the skin and to avoid infections. Patients need to consult their physician if there are any infections present in the affected extremity.
  • The goal of therapy is to reduce swelling, manage the lymphedema and reduce your risk of it getting worse and leading to other health problems. Your certified lymphedema therapist will guide you through the treatment program and show you how to control your lymphedema with self care.


Lymphedema is for life. Just as people with diabetes or a heart condition must learn to manage and live with it, ongoing self-care for lymphedema is vital. It takes time and knowledge, and is something you have to commit to for life. This will help you to better manage your lymphedema and reduce your risk of complications.


 Please see my Favorite Links page for more information sources. 

Lymphedema Therapy



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Lymphatic System



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What are the early signs of Lymphedema


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Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)


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