Which are the symptoms?
- feeling of fullness and tightness
- changes in the skin
- skin infections (cellulitis)
- leakage through the skin
- cancer (rare)
How is it diagnosed?
It is obviously important to discover the cause of the lyphedema, but it is also mandatory to define the type of lymphatic abnormality. Imaging tests are used to help diagnose, define and monitor lymphoedema.
How is it treated?
Surgery is considered if other nonsurgical treatments aren’t effective. Not everyone is a candidate for surgery, but for some patients symptoms can be eased with a surgical procedure. Surgical procedures for lymphedema are divided in ablative and physiologic. In ablative surgery, the soft tissues, which are edematous and fibrotic, above the level of the deep fascia, are surgically removed with either direct excision or by liposuction,
Physiologic methods aim to recreate normal lymphatic patterns or alternative ways for lymph fluid to flow out of the affected limb. Two main physiologic procedures are currently considered effective to treat lymphedema. One is based on the creation of shunts between the congested lymphatic channels and the venous system proximal to the site of lymphatic obstruction. The other relies on the introduction of vascularized adipose tissue flaps which include vascularized lymph nodes to the affected extremity.