Lymphedema Treatment Options

Lymphedema is a disorder of the lymphatic system.  The lymphatic system is an important part of the body’s overall immune system and involves the circulation of lymphatic fluid to clean and protect the body.  Lymphedema is caused by a breakdown or blockage of the lymphatic fluid circulation that can produce swelling.  In an arm or leg, the lymphedema swelling may cause:

  • Devastating, rapidly spreading infections
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of mobility and function
  • Interference with work and daily activities

At first, this blockage causes a buildup of lymphatic fluids.  In the early stages, this fluid can be removed with treatments such as conservative lymphedema therapy, and the arm or leg may go back to its normal size.  However, over time the lymphatic fluid accumulation can cause a buildup of additional solids such as protein, fat, and fibrotic tissue.  Once present, these solids are permanent, and the arm or leg no longer will reduce to its normal size unless surgically treated.

Dr. Granzow’s Comprehensive Lymphedema Treatment System

Dr. Granzow pioneered the first comprehensive lymphedema treatment system which fully integrates lymphedema surgeries and lymphedema therapy, known as the Functional Lymphatic Operations (FLO)SM System.  Dr. Granzow’s treatment system has been consistent and effective in treating lymphedema patients from all over the world.

What makes Dr. Granzow’s lymphedema treatment system unique is his focus on matching the type of lymphedema treatment and surgery to each patient’s condition to produce the maximum effectiveness. The fact is that no single procedure is effective for all cases of lymphedema.

Dr. Granzow incorporates the following lymphedema surgeries into his treatment system:

VLNT – Vascularized Lymph Node Transfer

What Causes Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is most commonly caused by:

  • Cancer treatment with surgery: Lymph nodes and other structures are commonly removed as part of the necessary treatment for many types of cancer, such as breast cancer, cervical or ovarian cancer, or melanoma.
  • Cancer treatment with radiation therapy: The radiation therapy needed to treat many cancers also can permanently damage lymphatic drainage
  • Primary, or congenital lymphedema: A disorder of the lymphatic system can occur spontaneously at birth. This may take many years to manifest and often is only first noticed in the teenage years or later.
  • Infection: More common in developing countries, parasites or infection can slow or stop lymph fluid from draining properly.

Conservative (Non-Surgical) Treatment for Lymphedema

Conservative treatment for lymphedema may involve the following methods that aim to reduce lymph fluid that collects in the affected arm or leg:

  • Manual lymphatic drainage and massage
  • Use of specialized compression garments
  • Application of lymphedema bandaging
  • Skincare
  • Selected exercises

When used in combination, the above treatments may be known as Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT).  These treatments are best performed by an experienced and certified lymphedema therapist.

For more information about available lymphedema treatment or surgery, contact our Manhattan Beach office at (310) 882-6261.