Your lymph system is an interconnected network of nodes and tubes or vessels that plays an integral role in the body’s immune system and also serves to drain away excess fluids, waste, and toxins that collect in the body’s soft tissues. The lymph fluid inside the tubes and nodes also carries infection-fighting white blood cells throughout your body to help ward off diseases and infections.

Lymphedema Causes

A normally-functioning lymph system is important for optimal health and wellness, but sometimes, the system becomes damaged and no longer works the way it’s supposed to. When the lymph system doesn’t function normally, fluid can build up in your soft tissues, resulting in chronic and often painful swelling in your legs or arms. This condition is called lymphedema, and without prompt and ongoing management, it can take a serious toll on your life and your well-being. The most common lymphedema causes include:

In addition, some risk factors make it more likely you’ll develop lymphedema, including older age, obesity, and autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis.

Fatigue and Lymphedema

Although swelling in the legs, feet, arms and hands is perhaps the most recognizable symptom of lymphedema, persistent and chronic fatigue is another common symptom, and for some people, it can become so severe, even normal daily activities can become difficult. Fatigue is widely reported in many people who develop lymphedema following cancer treatment. So far, researchers have been unable to determine the specific link between lymphedema and fatigue, but they theorize it could be related to the underlying disease or disease treatment, or it may be related to the physical strain and difficulty that comes with moving the enlarged limb and using it in normal everyday functions.

For others, the stiffness and discomfort of lymphedema may simply make the movement more burdensome, resulting in a decrease in physical activity and depression, which itself is often associated with increased feelings of fatigue. No matter the cause, the key to feeling more energized is to seek treatment from a doctor who’s skilled in lymphedema management.

Lymphedema Treatment

Although there’s no cure for lymphedema, the symptoms can be managed so you feel more comfortable and less tired out. Lymphedema treatment begins with a thorough evaluation of your symptoms and your overall health, as well as a review of your medical history and your current medications. Many people with lymphedema respond to lifestyle changes and simple habits that help reduce swelling and the discomfort it can cause. Depending on your needs and your symptoms, your lymphedema treatment plan might include:

The key to successfully managing your symptoms and restoring greater mobility is to see your vein doctor regularly to ensure your treatment options remain optimized for your symptoms, your lifestyle and your medical needs. Seeing your doctor on a routine basis also allows your physician to look for signs of tissue breakdown and other issues that need to be addressed to prevent possible complications.

Learn more about managing your lymphedema symptoms.

Managing lymphedema-related fatigue and other symptoms is an ongoing process, but the benefits can be substantial. As a top provider of lymphedema treatment in Tampa and St. Petersburg, Vein911 offers state-of-the-art techniques to help patients relieve uncomfortable symptoms and prevent serious complications. To learn more about the treatment options we offer or to schedule an appointment, call Vein911 at 855-396-9911 today.

Lymphedema is a chronic condition brought about by cancer treatment in many individuals. Its most common symptom is swelling of one or more of your extremities, such as leg(s) or arm(s). Swelling can also appear in lymph nodes in the neck, head or genital area. Our skilled vascular surgeon, Dr. Chris Pittman, helps patients manage the condition with personalized lymphedema treatment at our Tampa vein treatment center.

Lymphedema Causes and Risk Factors

Lymph node removal or damage, as part of (or a side effect of) cancer therapies is common. Lymphedema is more likely to occur in older patients who are overweight and/or have rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis. In some cases, impaired lymphatic function is inherited.

What Are Lymph Nodes?

Lymph glands (or nodes) are a part of your body’s immune system, connected throughout the body by the lymph vessels of your circulatory system. The lymphatic system acts as a filter of cancer cells and foreign particles in your body. Lymph nodes can become swollen and tender with a variety of illnesses, from strep throat to cancer.

Lymphatic System Function

Lymphosites (white blood cells within the lymph nodes) produce antibodies to fight various types of illness detected in the filtering process. Oncologists often stage a cancer diagnosis by evaluating the degree to which cancer has affected local lymph nodes (metastasised). 

Treatment Options for Managing Lymphedema

Although lymphedema is incurable, it can be managed to improve your quality of life by decreasing discomfort and inflammation of the affected extremity. Here, Dr. Chris Pittman, Medical Director and CEO of Vein911 outlines your lymphedema treatment options, which include:

Get Expert Lymphedema Treatment in St. Petersburg and Tampa, FL

Vein911 is a leading vein treatment center in the Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg area. The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce recently named Vein911 a semi-finalist for the Small Business of the Year Award for 2017. Our vein doctor provides advanced medical and cosmetic vein treatments.

If you’d like to know more about lymphedema causes, or you’re seeking expert lymphedema treatment here in Tampa, contact Vein911 online, or call us at 855-396-9911 today.

Lymphedema is chronic swelling in the arms or legs caused by damage to the lymphatic system. One of those conditions that can’t be cured, it must be managed with conservative treatments to prevent complications like skin breakdown or infections. Here are the basics about lymphedema from Dr. Chris Pittman of Vein 911 in Tampa, Florida.

What is Lymphedema?

If you break down the word, it becomes lymph and edema. Lymph refers to the clear fluid that circulates through the body outside of the blood vessels through channels that make up the lymphatic system. Edema is simply another word for swelling. It is most likely to occur after cancer treatment or surgery in which the lymph nodes are damaged or removed. The normal drainage channels are blocked or destroyed, and the lymph cannot drain properly, so it builds up in the tissues. Being older, overweight or obese or having rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis can increase the risk of lymphedema.

Lymphedema Symptoms and Complications

Swelling is the cardinal sign of lymphedema. It can include part or all of an arm or leg. You may have a sensation of fullness, tightness or feel as though the affected limb is heavy. Some people notice aching or discomfort, or have restricted range of motion. The skin may become hardened or thick (fibrosis). The affected limb is subject to recurring infections (the lymphatic tissues are part of the immune system). If untreated, lymphedema can sometimes result in a rare form of cancer called lymphangiosarcoma. Lymphedema can occur on its own (primary) or as the result of another condition like cancer or surgery (secondary).

Self Management of Lymphedema

It’s important to keep the affected limb elevated as much as possible to promote drainage. Gentle exercises can also promote lymph drainage. Heating pads can cause burns and should be avoided, as the skin is less sensitive to temperature changes. It’s important to moisturize the skin daily to help keep it supple and prevent cracking that could lead to an infection. Inspect the skin every day for signs of injuries and protect it from injury. Lifestyle changes such as weight loss, stress reduction and regular exercise may be helpful in some cases.

Medical Treatment of Lymphedema

Compression stockings or sleeves can help promote drainage and prevent increased swelling. These must be properly fitted by a trained individual who will measure the affected limb and order the correct stocking or sleeve. Pneumatic compression takes this a step farther by connecting a pump to an inflatable sleeve or stocking. A certified lymphedema therapist can teach you special exercises and massage therapists who are trained in lymphatic massage can help promote lymph drainage. Your doctor must prescribe these treatments in most cases in order for your insurance to pay for them.

With proper medical management and care, lymphedema can be managed successfully. If you have questions or suspect you have lymphedema, please contact us.


In simple terms, lymphedema is the disruption or a blockage of your lymph fluid flow causing it to build up in the layer of tissue you have that is under your skin. This leads to severe swelling and pain.

Two potential triggers of this condition have been identified, which include cancer treatments and surgery complications. If you are struggling with excess body weight, this could also be a risk factor as well.  Obesity is a particular concern for lymphedema since the rate of obesity in the United States is worsening.

Treating your Lymphedema with Compression Stockings

Stockings are typically a fashion choice for most healthy individuals to complement their dress. However, if you are a lymphedema sufferer, compression stockings become something entirely different for you and can even save your life.

Different areas of your body can swell severely with lymphedema and when you don’t apply pressure with the compression stockings, this swelling can get much worse and even become life-threatening.

What are Compression Stockings

Compression stockings are a type of medical-grade device created for improving your blood flow and encourage ankle or feet lymph drainage. There are a number of levels in compression that range from mild to firm compression or if needed, extra firm compression. The right compression level for your individual requirements will be prescribed by your doctor.

These stockings are able to improve the flow of lymph by graduating the compression degree where its loose at the top and firm at the foot. Compression stockings promote gradual and gentle lymphatic fluid drainage from your swollen feet by working with the natural movements of your body. They don’t interrupt any flow of blood to your extremities.

There are a number of different types of compression stockings that range in materials, style, size and compression levels to help you get relief. It’s important that these stockings are properly fitted since they could worsen your Lymphedema or increase your risk of getting it if you already don’t.

Compression stockings have also been useful for women while they are pregnant and have helped provide relief from milder forms of spider and varicose veins.

If you have Lymphedema or have an increased risk for the disease, it’s important that you talk with your doctor to see if compression stockings are a good treatment plan for you.

If you think, or know, you have lymphedema, call Dr. Chris Pittman and our Tampa vein specialists at Vein 911 at 855-396-8841. We can help you choose the correct compression garment and talk about other lymphedema treatment messages, such as massage therapy, which helps to encourage your fluid to flow back into your trunk.

This condition often takes patients by surprise.  It might be present at birth or develop after surgery or another treatment such as radiation for cancer. The leading cause of lymphedema in the legs is untreated chronic venous insufficiency, and often “hidden” varicose veins, that lead to “secondary” lymphedema and persistent and permanent ankle swelling. Blood clots that form in deep leg veins can lead to serious health risks such as pulmonary embolisms or deep vein thromboses (DVTs).  DVTs in turn can result in swelling of the lower extremities and lymphedema. Developing a basic understanding of this disorder can help reduce stress in patients who suffer from it.


Lymphedema Overview

This condition is a disorder of the lymphatic system that causes swelling.  It most often occurs in a leg or an arm.  lymphedemaHowever, UCSanDiego Health indicates that other areas potentially affected include the abdomen, neck, face, genitals, and breast.

There are two types of this disorder.  The primary type has no apparent cause and is often present when a child is born.  The secondary type develops after an event such as an infection, radiation, surgery, trauma, or chronic venous insufficiency.  According to Cedars-Sinai®, this condition is common after removal of one or more lymph nodes because of surgery for breast cancer.  Some cases develop after a DVT.  MedlinePlus says that this type of clot most often develops in the thigh or the lower leg.

Symptoms might appear suddenly or over a period of time.  The most common include:

The most common way to diagnose this condition is by visual exam by a venous and lymphatic medicine specialist.  It involves checking the patient’s range of motion and looking for swelling and tenderness.  If the exam is inconclusive, a physician might order any of these procedures to make a diagnosis:


Diagnosis and Treatment

Both invasive and noninvasive treatments are available to treat the disorder.  Often a team of professionals treats the patient as part of an outpatient program.  OncoLink reports that one of the specialists likely to provide services is an interventional radiologist.


UCSanDiego Health states that common noninvasive therapies include:



Surgeons utilize two primary types of surgery to treat this lymphatic disorder, according to Cedars-Sinai.  Vascularized lymph node transfer resettles lymph nodes from another area, primarily for patients with an upper-extremity problem.  Lymphatic venous anastomosis reconnects lymphatic vessels in the affected limb to nearby veins to better drain fluid.