What is Lymphedema?

Most people who suffer from lymphedema begin to notice it quickly. Unlike some vascular diseases, lymphedema is noticeable because it causes painful swelling in your arms or legs. If you’ve begun to notice this problem, you may wonder why it’s occurring and what you can do about it. 

At Suffolk Vascular & Vein Center, our medical team ensures that you are informed about your condition as well as prepared for the effects it may cause and the treatments it may require. That’s why we want to give you a quick and easy breakdown on lymphedema as well as on the treatments that we have available to ease your symptoms. 

The lowdown on lymphedema  

Lymphedema is the result of a blockage in the lymphatic vessels, which leads to lymph (a type of fluid that carries white blood cells) retention in the limbs. This condition can occur on its own, but rarely does so. 

The more common type of lymphedema is secondary lymphedema, which occurs in 1 in 1,000 people in the United States. 

The risk factors for lymphedema include:

In most cases, though, lymphedema is the direct result of one of the issues listed below: 


Surgery that requires the removal of lymph nodes or vessels can potentially damage the area, leading to lymphedema. 


Cancer cells can block the vessels, causing a buildup of lymph. In addition, cancer surgery or radiation treatment can also create problems with lymphedema. 


An infection of the lymph nodes can stop the flow of lymph fluid, which can lead to lymphedema. Usually this occurs in people living or traveling in developing countries as well as those in tropical or subtropical climates. 

Recognizing lymphedema 

Most people get lymphedema in one leg or arm, but it can actually occur anywhere in your body. You might not notice it at first, but as the swelling becomes more severe, it also becomes more painful. Some of the common symptoms of lymphedema include: 

The skin in this area might also appear thick or leathery, and it may feel full or weighed down. 

Treatments for lymphedema 

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for lymphedema, but you can get relief with a number of treatments. Massage therapy can be a helpful treatment option, as can taking certain medications, such as diuretics. 

In addition, there are things you can do at home to experience relief, such as exercising the limb regularly and wearing compression socks while you’re out or even around the house. 

Do I have lymphedema? 

Lymphedema is a condition that requires a medical diagnosis. If you think you might be suffering from this condition, you can call one of our three New York offices in Port Jefferson Station, Hauppauge, or Riverhead and set up an appointment with one of our providers. 

We also offer the option to request an appointment online at your earliest convenience.

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