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Treating Lymphedema with Lifestyle Remedies and Medical Intervention

Proper management is a critical aspect of preventing extensive tissue damage related to lymphedema. At Keck Medicine of USC, patients can expect to receive compassionate care and clear communication from lymphedema specialist Dr. Ketan Petal. The objective of treating this chronic condition is to slow or halt progression as quickly as possible. To achieve this, both lifestyle remedies and medical intervention may be considered.

Lymphedema treatment is developed with care based on the severity of symptoms. Patients diagnosed with Stage 1 or Stage 2 lymphedema may receive a recommendation for lifestyle remedies alone. Strategies aimed at decongesting the lymph system include:

  • Fluid accumulation may be prevented or minimized by wearing a compression sleeve, socks, or other appropriate garment.
  • A doctor or therapist may recommend specific exercises to move lymph through the body while also restoring strength and flexibility. Rebounding is one example of an exercise that can improve lymphatic circulation.
  • Weight management. A healthy, balanced diet nourishes the body and aids in natural detoxification through a functioning lymph system.
  • Infection prevention. Excellent skin care is vital to the prevention of infection in areas affected by lymphedema.

Medical Intervention for Lymphedema

When lymphedema has surpassed Stage 2, medical intervention may be necessary. Medical treatment for lymphedema may require one of a few different surgical techniques. The aim of each technique is to restore proper flow to the lymphatic system. Some achieve this by “rewiring” vessels that carry lymph. These are referred to as physiological procedures. Some, referred to as excisional procedures, focus on removing diseased tissue.

Dr. Patel is a plastic surgeon who specializes in the advanced physiological procedures developed to treat lymphedema. These include:

  • Vascularized lymph node transfer, which moves healthy lymph nodes from one area to an area of slow lymph circulation. Vessels in the lymphatic system are rewired as needed to reduce swelling.
  • Lymphovenous bypass, which involves the repositioning of certain lymphatic channels to connect with nearby vessels.

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Even the earliest indication of lymphedema warrants medical attention. At Keck Medicine of USC, we believe in partnering with each patient to determine their needs and develop workable strategies to protect health and well-being. Contact us to learn more or to schedule your consultation.

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