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Treatment

In NZ most care is provided by lymphoedema therapists. The Cancer Society can direct you to a therpist.

Treatments include wearing compression garments or a course of bandaging, lymphoedema massage (also called manual lymph drainage) and more recently the use of low level laser therapy. In some instances, the application of medical tape can be useful. Where the limb has become enlarged or the swelling has hardened, a course of daily multi-layer bandaging for a period of one to two weeks or more may be needed. Compression garments need to be worn following the bandaging to retain the gains. As lymphoedema is a life-long condition those who take a proactive self management role, are compliant with recommendations and become informed about the condition are likely to have the best outcomes. Lifestyle practices of careful skin care, weight management and exercise minimise the harm.

For people who have repeat admissions to hospital or a history of collapse we would also advise obtaining a medical alert bracelet as certain procedures can exacerbate lymphoedema:

“ALERT: LYMPHOEDEMA: No blood tests, blood pressure, IV access or injections in this limb.”