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Lymphedema (swelling of the arm, leg, chest) is a condition patients may development in a mild way during the first few weeks after undergoing surgery for removal of lymph nodes or radiation to the lymph nodes area. In most instances, the swelling of the area is barely visible, with the only sign being that the sleeves or pant leg feels tight on the surgical side and not on the other side. The condition usually resolves itself within a few months because the remaining lymph channels compensate for those removed during surgery or irradiated. The caution is that once lymph node tissue has been removed, the person remains susceptible to lymphedema indefinitely- possibly many years later.
If, despite adhering to the advised precautions, you notice even slight swelling (more than ½ '') redness, hardness, or warmth in your involved limb or chest you should notify your physician immediately. The majority of those who start therapy shortly after the episode (before the limb swells excessively) may improve significantly and rapidly.
Lymphedema Therapy is offered through Bell Rehab Services. Contact your healthcare provider to see if a referral is right for you.
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