Lymphedema Diagnosis and Treatment after Plastic Surgery

Lymphedema Treatment to Reduce Swelling

Cosmetic surgery can be a great way to achieve the figure you have always dreamed about. When coupled with a healthy lifestyle, good diet, and regular exercise, liposuction or a tummy tuck, for instance, can help you get rid of those unsightly lumps and bumps that have been undermining your shapely physique. As with all surgeries, however, cosmetic procedures do entail the potential for unwanted complications. One of the most common post-surgical complications is a condition known as lymphedema. While lymphedema can occur after any surgical procedure, it is especially problematic after surgeries that involve the removal of lymph nodes or disruption of the lymph system, especially in the abdominal area. Therefore, if you are facing surgery for cancer such as mastectomy, or a cosmetic procedure such as liposuction, tummy tuck, or rhinoplasty (a “nose job”), your surgeon’s post-surgery recovery plan may include one or more specific recommendations for treating lymphedema, such as lymphatic drainage massage.

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is excessive swelling in the extremities—the arms and/or the legs—caused by the inability of the lymph nodes to facilitate the proper drainage of lymph, a fluid that helps clear toxins, infection, and damaged tissue from the cells. When the proper flow of lymph is blocked or restricted, the fluid builds up, causing painful swelling. There are two different kinds of lymphedema. Primary lymphedema is a rare congenital condition. In the United States, secondary lymphedema is the most common type of lymphedema. It usually develops after damage to or removal of lymph nodes due to infection, trauma, surgery, or treatment for cancer. There is no cure for lymphedema. For cancer survivors, for instance, it can be a lifelong condition that must be carefully managed with treatments such as manual lymphatic drainage. It can also be a temporary side effect of some cosmetic procedures, particularly liposuction, tummy tuck, and other abdominal procedures which can involve significant disruption of the lymph system.

Treatment for Lymphedema

Treatment for lymphedema focuses on steps to reduce swelling, stimulate the healthy flow of lymph, and minimize pain and discomfort. Your surgeon may recommend one or more of these steps as part of your post-surgery recovery to minimize the risk of lymphedema. One of the most effective treatments for lymphedema is a highly specialized and gentle form of body work known as manual lymphatic drainage, or MLD. Lymphatic drainage massage can minimize swelling by stimulating the proper flow of fluid near areas where lymph nodes have been damaged or removed. It is often recommended to help reduce post-surgical swelling and bruising. Other benefits of post-surgical MLD include:

  • Minimizing the growth of excessive scar tissue;
  • Minimizing discomfort and pain;
  • Stimulating the body’s immune system to speed natural healing;
  • Promoting calm and reducing stress.

Other potential treatment options for lymphedema include light exercises and the use of compression garments. Light exercises developed specifically for lymphedema can help stimulate proper fluid drainage away from the hands and feet. The goal of these exercises is to minimize swelling in the extremities and help you build small muscle strength needed for everyday tasks. These exercises should not be confused with a workout regime designed to lose weight or “get in shape”, and should not tire you out or undermine the healing process. Compression can be another effective treatment option. Compression puts pressure on certain areas of the body to force the movement of fluid away from that area. Compression can involve light wrappings, specialized garments, or pneumatic compression that intermittently inflates with an automatic pump. Any use of compression as a treatment for lymphedema must involve professional help to ensure that the compression is properly fit to your body and to avoid getting the pressure too tight, which can block blood flow. In many cases, your surgeon or physician will encourage you to utilize a combination of these treatments for maximum effectiveness. In all cases, it is important that you follow your surgeon’s recommendations closely, and only work with licensed therapists who have specialized training in techniques such as manual lymphatic drainage.

Contact Orlando Massage Clinic

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In Home or In Office Massages by Jakki in the Greater Orlando / Central Florida area. Certified for many different massages and treatments. Specializing in Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) post surgery recovery massage.

To schedule an appointment with Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Advanced Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapist, Jakki Bosco LMT, please call (813) 298-5603.   We believe nothing is more important than human touch.

Providing massage services to patients in Orlando FL, Windermere, Clermont, Winter Garden, Dr. Phillips, Kissimmee, Apopka, Winter Park, Altamonte Springs and surrounding areas.

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