Lymphedema is a build-up of fluid, usually in the arms or legs, which causes swelling, can slow wound healing, and can raise your risk of infection. If you have lymphedema, we understand how uncomfortable and limiting it can be, and how it can impair your quality of life. At NewYork-Presbyterian, we have special programs to assess your lymphedema and provide physical or occupational therapy to manage it.
Specially Trained Therapists
A physiatrist (Rehabilitation Medicine doctor), surgeon, or radiation oncologist will assess your symptoms and determine if you should be referred to a lymphedema specialist. Our physical and occupational therapists have dedicated training in the treatment of lymphedema. Several of them hold advanced certification from the Lymphology Association of North America (LANA).
Personalized Therapy and Education
If you are having lymphedema symptoms, it is important to let your doctor know as early as possible. With early therapy, we can often reverse the buildup of fluid, but scar tissue that develops with late-stage lymphedema may be irreversible. Your treatment may include compression therapy, manual lymphatic drainage (special massage to help move fluid away from the affected area), and exercise. We will also teach you how to take care of your skin and nails and how to use bandages and compression garments to manage your lymphedema and feel more comfortable.
Immediate Care for Breast Surgery Patients
If you have had breast surgery and you had lymph nodes removed under your arm, your risk of lymphedema is increased. A therapist will visit with you immediately after breast surgery to teach you how to reduce your risk of lymphedema, and show you exercises to maintain normal movement and flexibility in your arm. If you continue to have symptoms after you leave the hospital—such as restriction of motion, stiffness, pain, or swelling—we can see you as an outpatient for specialized therapy.