Vein disease is the most common cause of leg swelling in the USA and the leading cause of lymphedema, also called phlebolymphedema. Swelling is NEVER a normal part of the aging process. There is always a reason and the most common cause is undiagnosed, untreated vein disease. Left untreated, vein disease often leads to phlebolymphedema and, over many years, can leave you with chronic, severe swelling in your legs, ankles, and feet. Swelling limits your mobility in your Golden Years and may even lead to premature death. Dr. Chris Pittman and Vein911 Vein Treatment Centers are nationally recognized leaders in the diagnosis and treatment of leg swelling and lymphedema.

If you have been diagnosed with “water retention” and your doctor is prescribing pills for your leg swelling and telling you to eat less salt, you likely have phlebolymphedema.

Lymphedema is the abnormal buildup of high-protein fluid within body tissues. This swelling most typically occurs in one of your arms or legs, although it can also occur in other areas of your body, including your breast, genitals, neck or head.

Other Causes of Lymphedema

After phlebolymphedema of the legs, lymphedema may also occur after your lymph nodes are removed or your lymphatic vessels are damaged. It can also develop when your lymph vessels are impaired or missing as a result of a hereditary condition. It is a condition that may result after lymph node removal during cancer surgery. Infection, injury, scar tissue from surgery or radiation treatment may also be a causal factor.

If your lymphatic system — which is also a component of your immune system — is blocked, your lymphatic fluid is prevented from draining optimally which leads to fluid buildup and swelling. 

This abnormal swelling generally presents itself when your lymph nodes are removed or your lymphatic vessels are damaged. It can also develop when your lymph vessels are impaired or missing as a result of a hereditary condition. It is a common condition that results upon lymph nodes removal as factor of cancer treatment. Infection, injury, scar tissue from surgery or radiation treatment may also be a causal factor.

In addition, if your lymphatic system (which is a component of your immune system) is blocked, your lymphatic fluid is prevented from draining optimally, which leads to fluid buildup and swelling.

Lymphedema can occur as a result of treatment of certain cancers, including:

  • Breast cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Vulvar cancer
  • Ovarian cancer

Risk Factors of Developing Lymphedema After Cancer Treatment

You have an increased risk of developing lymphedema swelling after cancer treatment if you are:

  • Overweight or obese
  • Are older
  • Have rheumatoid arthritis
  • Have psoriatic arthritis

Treatment Options for Lymphedema

dr. pittman analyzing results

There is no cure for lymphedema, treatment includes focusing on managing and reducing the swelling and discomfort related to the condition. Your treatment may include:

  • Compression garment on the affected limb. This encourages fluid to flow back to your trunk.
  • Doing light exercises. Non-strenuous exercises will encourage excess lymph fluid to drain due to muscular action.
  • Use of a pneumatic compression pump on your leg, arm, or even your head, to prompt the flow of lymph fluid into your trunk.
  • Massage therapy. A special type of massage involving manual  lymph drainage may help with the flow of fluid out of your affected leg or arm.

If you have lymphedema, it is extremely important that you practice excellent hygiene and watch for signs of skin breakdown, infection, or injury to the affected limbs.

Vein911 is the premier vein treatment center in the St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay, FL areas. We are dedicated to cosmetic and medical vein care. If you have, or believe you have, lymphedema, give Dr. Chris Pittman and our Tampa vein specialists team a call at 855-396-9911.

Worried you may have Lymphedema? Contact us via phone and we can answer your questions immediately!

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