Three Common Challenges Lymphedema Patients Face When Seeking Treatment

Lymphedema can be a painful and devastating condition. Many suffering from lymphedema struggle to work, enjoy hobbies and remain active. It can even put a strain on relationships with family and friends. But with the proper treatment, patients can find immense relief and significantly improve their quality of life. Unfortunately, finding the proper care can be a challenge for some patients. So, it’s best to head into the process with an understanding of what to look for and what roadblocks you might encounter in order to find a partner that can offer the appropriate care and help you on your journey to recovery. These are three common challenges lymphedema patients face when seeking treatment and how to avoid them by partnering with the right provider. 


Your Provider Doesn’t Specialize in Treating Your Specific Type of Lymphedema 

There are various types of lymphedema, and each affects the body in different ways—therefore, different treatment is required for each. Though a provider may claim to offer treatment for lymphedema, they may not have the depth of knowledge or resources to treat your specific type of lymphedema. Primary lymphedema, for instance, is much less common than secondary lymphedema, so not every provider has the expertise needed to treat it. Congenital primary lymphedema is also much more challenging to treat, so patients suffering from primary lymphedema need to find a provider that specializes in that type of care.

Meanwhile, breast and gynecological cancer patients who develop secondary lymphedema may have very specific challenges when it comes to their condition. So, they need a practitioner who understands those challenges and can adjust treatment accordingly.  Finally, treating leg lymphedema is quite different than treatment for arm lymphedema. There are many providers who have extensive experience treating arm lymphedema, but far fewer are equipped to treat leg lymphedema. So before committing to a provider, it’s essential to do your research and have a conversation with potential providers to ensure they have a proven track record for treating the specific type of lymphedema you’re living with.   


You’re Struggling to Get Approval for Your Surgery

Surgery is a safe, effective and often necessary step in improving the lives of people living with lymphedema. However, many insurance providers don’t fully understand this, and it’s common for them to deny approval for surgery. This can be a devastating blow to a hopeful lymphedema patient who is on the verge of relief.  With the COVID pandemic, the approvals process has become slower, and the number of denials has increased. There are several reasons for this. One is that the claims agents are working from home and can’t easily ask their supervisors for help processing these rare claims. An increase in denials may also be attributed to the fact that insurance companies are required to cover all COVID claims and are therefore denying or retracting approvals for other claims to save money.  Fortunately, a surgery denial is not the end of the road for patients. Through the appeals process, patients can overturn the surgery denial and get approval for the appropriate care. In our experience, this has proven to be a very effective course of action. When looking for a care partner, find a center with a patient advocate or legal representative who can help you through the appeals process—should it come to that. At the Granzow Lymphedema & Lipedema Center, for instance, our patient advocates will act as your representation, assembling your case and guiding you through the entire appeals process, ensuring you get the care that you deserve. 


Accessing Post-operative Care

Though surgery is a very effective next step in treating lymphedema after a physical therapy treatment plan has been performed, patients need ongoing care for years after their surgery. So it’s not enough to find a provider who can perform the surgery; patients need a collaborative partner who will support them for years to come.  To achieve optimal results, the right provider will offer post-operative care. Your team should also be a true partner, following up after surgery to make sure you’re wearing the right compression garments and providing you with all the information you need to make a full recovery. 


About The Granzow Lymphedema & Lipedema Center

Since 2005, Dr. Granzow and the team at the Granzow Lymphedema & Lipedema Center have offered the most advanced and effective surgery and treatment options for primary and secondary lymphedema. Our comprehensive lymphedema treatment program, the Granzow System SM , was the first successful integrated system of surgery and therapy for lymphedema. We work side-by-side with each patient every step of the journey, from initial consultation to surgery and beyond. We also offer a free Patient Advocacy program for patients, guiding them through the appeals process should that become necessary. 

Read success stories from some of the many patients we’ve served or schedule a consultation to learn how we can be a partner in your lymphedema care.