Lymphedema refers to swelling that generally occurs in one or both of your or legs. Lymphedema is related to a disorder (usually acquired, rarely congenital) of your lymphatic system (lymphatic vessels and lymphnodes).

It can develop after surgery for removal of lymphnodes for cancer, after radiation or because of a tumor invading and blocking the lymphnodes. Benign causes of lymphedema can be any surgery because of injury or interruption of the lymphatic vessels, can be infection or trauma. You can get lymphedema within a few days of any of the above incidents, but it can also happen months or years afterward.

See also section What is Lymphedema…

Apart from esthetic dysmorphia, lymphedema can cause skin dryness and breakdown, skin thickening, frequent infections and ulcers. Lymphedema can also cause long-term psychological and social problems for patients. There's no cure but it can be managed with early diagnosis and diligent care of your affected leg swelling and associated symptoms can be minimized.

Your vascular surgeon will take a thorough past medical history and along with the physical exam and imaging studies will differentiate whether this is a true lymphedema or edema related to other causes (e.g. venous insufficiency, venous thrombosis, renal or heart insufficiency).

vascular health

Vascular Surgeon

Dr. Efthymios (Makis) Avgerinos is a Vascular Surgeon, Associate Professor of Surgery in the Division of Vascular Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in USA.


Scientific Editing

Efthymios D. Avgerinos, MD, PhD, FEBVS
Associate Professor of Surgery
Division of Vascular Surgery, University of Pittsburgh
Medical Center Pennsylvania, USA