Lymphedema is a health condition that causes an abnormal fluid buildup on any part of your body due to malfunction of the lymphatic system. It causes your legs, arms, and other body areas to swell, causing painful symptoms and skin issues such as infections. Lymphedema can become severe and cause long-term and chronic health conditions if not treated. Fortunately, you can manage and treat your lymphedema condition through a Tamarac lymphedema specialist to reduce symptoms and improve your quality of life. Learn more about the complex therapies required to treat severe lymphedema.
What Is Severe Lymphedema?
Severe lymphedema is an advanced stage that causes permanent swelling and skin changes, such as scarring and thickening, that do not resolve through decongestive therapy. Severe lymphedema can cause elephantiasis, wart-like growth, and extensive scarring on the skin. You might need more complex and invasive treatments if you develop severe lymphedema. They include:
1. Complex Lymphoedema Therapy (CLT)
Complex lymphoedema therapy combines physical therapy, manual lymphatic drainage, and compression bandaging methods to alleviate lymphedema symptoms. You might notice the swelling fading off after a few weeks or days. Once the swelling reduces, you will need to wear compression garments as advised by your doctor to maintain improvements from the treatment. You must also see your doctor every six to twelve months for regular reviews.
2. Laser Treatment
Laser therapy can treat severe lymphedema by targeting the cells in the lymphatic system. It can also help reduce fluid buildup in affected areas and alleviate painful lymphedema symptoms and skin thickening. During laser treatment, your doctor applies infra-red-light beams to the swollen areas using a large scanner or a handheld device. You might not feel any heat or experience any side effects after treatment.
3. Lymph Taping
Lymph taping is also an effective treatment method for managing lymphedema symptoms. It involves using a particular type of tape, Kinesio, to lift your skin and help your muscles work effectively. As a result, the lymph fluid in the affected areas drains off gradually. This lymph tape is waterproof, and you can use it for several days. Lymph taping improves blood flow and reduces swelling caused by lymphedema.
4. Compression Therapy
Severe lymphedema can cause excess swelling, which can be extremely painful. Through compression therapy, you can easily contain and reduce the swelling and soften the thickened tissue in the affected area. You can apply compression in several ways using bandages, wraps, and pumps.
However, compression therapy is not recommended for everyone, especially if you have uncontrolled blood pressure and congestive heart failure. Talk with your doctor to determine whether this treatment is right for you.
If all other lymphedema treatments fail, surgery may be recommended. Before undergoing lymphedema surgery, your doctor will first consider the severity of your condition, how often you get infections, and your general health. Some common procedures for severe lymphedema include liposuction, tissue transfer, and lymphatic reconstruction. Surgery is more effective in managing lymphedema symptoms but not suitable for everyone.
If your lymphedema condition has progressed or has failed to respond to decongestive therapy, you might need to consider more specialized treatments. Visit Advanced Foot, Ankle, & Wound Specialists, PA, to determine how you can improve and manage your condition. Call today or visit the clinic’s online portal to book an appointment.