What is Lymphedema?
The lymphatic system is responsible for transporting protein-rich lymph fluid back into the circulatory system. When lymph vessels are unable to transport this fluid properly, a build-up occurs, resulting in swelling and the thickening of the skin.
Lymphedema is a highly under-diagnosed disease that affects the lymphatic vessels. Medical schools give little attention to the subject, and unfortunately patients with abnormal swelling (usually in an arm or leg) often have more information than their medical professionals.
Who is at risk?
Primary lymphedema is genetic, resulting from lymph nodes or vessels that either aren't adequately developed or are missing altogether. If you have had a mastectomy, lumpectomy, radiation treatment, lymph node removal, surgeries, infections, trauma or chronic venous insufficiency to your limbs, you may be at risk for developing secondary lymphedema.