In lymphedema there are no conservative or surgical measures that can be taken to completely restore it. Nevertheless it can be improved to a great extent and kept in a good condition through the complete decongestive therapy for lymphedema and in this may greatly upgrade the quality of life of the patient.
Lymphatic drainage is achieved with mild techniques that are applied on the skin without friction. Their purpose is to activate the lymphatic system and to accelerate the drainage of the lymphedema. The direction of the handling we perform is dependent on the type of lymphedema present. These techniques should not be painful or unpleasant, as pain causes the lympatic vessels to spasm.
After the techniques of lymphatic drainage are applied, it’s imperative to wrap the affected limb with specialized bandages in order to obstruct the reappearance of the edema on it. Further more, padding materials are placed between the bandaging and the skin so as to avoid the risk of obstructing the circulation of fluids in the area (blood – lymph). Finally it should be noted that the best results after the application of bandaging are achieved when it’s followed by physical activity, therefore the compressing bandaging must allow mobility, not restrict it.
The most classic method of treating edema is to keep it in an elevated position. In this way, by taking advantage of gravity the edema can be directed to areas where the natural drainage of the body is functional.
The reduction phase ( or decongestion of the edema ) that is comprised mainly of lymphatic massage and the appropriate application of compressive bandaging. The frequency of the treatment sessions is daily and the duration is determined by the type of lymphedema. As soon as the edema has been decongested by 70 ~ 80% measures are taken for a “compressive garment”.
The phase of conservation and improvement, which usually includes the use of the appropriate “compressive garment“. The frequency of the treatment sessions between 2 and 3 times in a month and the duration of the treatment is for life.