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Acquired lymphedema

Lymphoedema is an accumulation of waste products and fluid in the tissue just under the skin. Lymphoedema is caused by the lymphatic system not being able to drain the fluid properly. The lymphatic ducts and/or lymph nodes are damaged or blocked. The lymphatic system is similar to the circulatory system, but instead of draining blood, it drains fluid.

This lymphatic fluid contains proteins, also known as the waste products. These proteins contain, among other things, cleared cells, bacteria and/or viruses. When the lymphatic system is not functioning properly, the normal drainage of the lymphatic system is interrupted. The proteins and the lymph fluid therefore remain, attracting even more fluid, which causes a build-up in the tissue. This causes swelling in the affected part of the body.

Frequently asked questions about acquired lymphedema
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Treatments against Acquired lymphedema

Frequently Asked Questions

Acquired lymphedema

There are two different types of lymphoedema:

Primary lymphoedema

Primary lymphoedema is a congenital condition that is rare. Due to fewer lymphatic channels and/or nodes, swelling occurs with age. In severe cases, this happens from childhood. In slightly less serious cases, it can happen from puberty. Oedema often occurs after a trauma (spraining, overloading, etc.) or an operation.

Secondary lymphoedema

Secondary lymphoedema is caused by external influences. These include an infection, a serious skin burn or an open fracture of the bone. Secondary lymphoedema can also be a consequence of radiotherapy (cancer treatment), the removal of lymph vessels or other surgery where the lymphatic system is damaged.

Secondary lymphoedema is more common and is caused by delayed drainage through the lymph vessels. The remaining lymphatic vessels cannot drain the lymphatic fluid sufficiently. Lymphoedema can occur on an arm or leg, after removing lymph nodes in, for example, the armpits or groin.

Possible characteristics of lymphoedema are:

  • Swollen feeling or tension in the affected body part
  • Tingling
  • Visible and/or palpable swelling
  • Skin change: different skin texture, colour, thickening in size and may feel hard or tight
  • Less mobility or flexibility
  • Clothing or accessories (rings, watches, socks) are tighter or constricted.

Depending on the symptoms that accompany the lymphoedema, the severity of the lymphoedema is determined during the first consultation with one of the skin therapists of Huidzorg West.The following therapies can be used:

Oedema therapy treatments are subject to a specific regulation. Each health insurance company has a fixed rate for these therapies.

In case of a chronic indication, the first 20 treatments are covered by the additional package; from the 21st treatment, the treatments are covered by the basic health insurance.

If there is no supplementary insurance, the first 20 treatments are at your own expense, after which a claim can be made under the basic insurance.

Should you have already made a claim on your supplementary package or have used up the maximum number of treatments, because you have had other (physio, exercise) therapies, for example, the oedema therapy may have to be paid for by yourself.We recommend that you contact your health insurance company as a matter of course.

With lymphoedema, it is very important to prevent infections and/or drying out of the skin. This can include taking care of your skin with a skin lotion or shower oil.

Pay extra attention to wounds, and take measures such as wearing garden gloves. Wearing the right compression material prevents aggravation of the affected body part.

Exercise stimulates the lymphatic system by activating the muscles and blood vessels that can move the lymphatic fluid. At home, you can apply (learned) self-massage and perform exercises to improve mobility and reduce lymphatic fluid.

At Huidzorg West we treat many women who are dealing with the consequences of a tumor in the breast region and/or lymph nodes. By removing or intensively treating (in different ways) this tumor and any metastases, it is possible that the lymphatic system has been damaged. As a result, the chest, but also the arm, can become thick and/or cause pain. The skin therapists of Huidzorg West are specialized in achieving a reduction of the existing complaints by means of integral edema therapy.

View our pricelist for the costs of treating lymphedema.

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