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Vascular Surgery Associates, LLC

Vascular Surgery, Wound Care, and Podiatry located throughout Maryland and Newark, DE

Your lymphatic system fights infections, removes waste, and keeps your body fluids balanced — but when it malfunctions, you could retain fluid and develop lymphedema. The leading lymphatic system experts at Vascular Surgery Associates, LLC, with offices in Bel Air, Baltimore, Towson, Westminster, Elkton, Frederick, Ellicott City, Hampstead, Abingdon, Columbia, Lutherville, Severna Park, MD, Wilmington, and Newark, DE can diagnose lymphedema and treat your symptoms. If you have leg swelling or other lymphedema symptoms, book your appointment online or call the office in your area for help today.

Lymphedema Q & A

What is lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a condition that happens when your lymph fluid builds up in one area rather than circulating throughout your body as usual. Lymphedema often occurs in the legs or arms, so the most common indicator of this condition is leg swelling. 

In addition to prominent swelling, usually in your legs, you may also experience:

  • Leg heaviness 
  • Leg tightness
  • Leg aching
  • Poor leg range-of-motion
  • Leg skin thickening and toughening

Usually, these symptoms appear in only one leg, but they can occasionally affect both legs. 

Why does lymphedema happen?

Lymphedema develops because of a blockage within, or damage to, your lymph nodes. This blockage or damage inhibits normal drainage, so your lymph fluid can't move back into your blood as usual. As the lymph fluid collects, it leads to the characteristic swelling. 

Secondary lymphedema, which is more common, typically develops because of: 

  • Parasitic infections
  • Cancerous tumors
  • Scarring following radiation therapy
  • Surgery, such as lymph node removal or leg blood vessel surgery

Lymphedema can develop as soon as a few days after radiation therapy. 95% of post-surgery lymphedema cases develop within three years of surgery. 

Inherited lymphedema, or primary lymphedema, is rare. Although you may have it from birth, symptoms might not appear until puberty or adulthood. 

How do you diagnose lymphedema?

The team at Vascular Surgery Associates, LLC, performs a careful assessment to diagnose your lymphedema. Symptoms of lymphedema, including leg swelling, often occur with a vascular disease as well. 

For this reason, the team performs tests such as Doppler ultrasound imaging and lymphatic system imaging to determine the cause of your issues. 

What is the best treatment for lymphedema?

Lymphedema symptoms often respond to a combination treatment approach. Although there's no cure, several measures can greatly increase your comfort and improve your quality of life. These may include:

  • Compression garments
  • Pneumatic compression (intermittent mechanical compression)
  • Lymphatic massage
  • Diuretics 
  • Prescribed exercises

If you're worried about lymphedema, the Vascular Surgery Associates, LLC, team is here to help. Book your appointment by calling the office in your area or scheduling online today.