Following breast cancer, your risk of developing lymphedema may increase based on risk factors such as radiation or lymph node removal. Being able to receive lymphedema therapy is key to your long-term health outcome.
Signs and symptoms of lymphedema include heaviness, tightness, or fullness of the affected area. You may notice that clothes or jewelry begin to feel tighter. Lymphedema tends to happen gradually over time and progresses slowly. Most often, lymphedema onset is within 3 years of initial breast cancer treatment. If you experience any of these things, it is important to speak with your doctor and get referred to a certified lymphedema therapist.
At The Milliken Hand Rehabilitation Center, we not only offer therapy following lymphedema diagnosis but have a specialized program for early detection and prevention. Early detection improves therapeutic outcomes and often results in more successful treatment. Utilizing bioimpedance spectroscopy technology, we can detect early changes in fluid before standard circumferential measures notice the change. This allows for early intervention to prevent the progression of lymphedema.
With therapy, you can expect manual treatment as well as compression therapy to reduce swelling. Therapy focuses on reducing the swelling as much as possible before fitting patients with maintenance garments. For those at risk, we provide routine screenings to address swelling changes as early as possible.
For further information about lymphedema or the therapy programs offered, please visit The Milliken Hand Rehabilitation Center or Washington University Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery.