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What is lymphedema?

Lymph nodes are part of the immune system. Lymphedema, also called elephantiasis, occurs as a result of blockages in these glands. Lymphedema is also defined as the deterioration of the lymphatic system and the increase in intercellular fluid with this deterioration. If the lymphatic system does not work properly, the veins cannot drain the fluid properly, which causes fluid to accumulate within the tissues. As a matter of fact, if the lymphatic system cannot carry the accumulated fluid, lymphedema occurs. 

What Causes Lymphedema? What are the types?

In lymphedema, lymph fluid cannot enter the bloodstream and spreads under the skin. The most common reason for the development of lymphedema is the removal of lymph nodes due to different reasons. Lymph nodes are also often removed as part of cancer treatment. On the other hand, lymphedema may develop after breast surgery and the incidence of this condition is approximately 25 %. In addition, this situation may occur in cancers developing in the prostate and lower abdomen. 

The greater the amount of lymph removed during treatment, the greater the likelihood of developing lymphedema. Other common causes of lymphedema can be listed as follows:

Lymphedema disease can be divided into two different groups as primary lymphedema and secondary lymphedema: 

Primary Lymphedema: It is usually congenital and occurs as a result of the lymphatic vessels not developing as much as they should while in the womb. Primary lymphedema occurring in one leg may also affect the other leg in the later stage. In addition, lymphedema that occurs after the age of 35, together with Milroy's disease and lymphedema as a result of Meige's disease is called primary lymphedema. 

Secondary Lymphedema: Lymphedema caused by cancer-related surgical interventions or radiotherapy is called secondary lymphedema. Secondary lymphedema is not congenital, but develops later.

Apart from all these, lymphedema may develop as a result of chronic venous insufficiency or lipedema. 

How Is Lymphedema Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of lymphedema can usually be made by the patient's history. Here, information such as whether the patient has undergone various trauma, infection or breast surgery is of great importance for diagnosis. The following methods can also be used for diagnosis:• Ultrasound,• Measurements made between two arms or two legs,

After the diagnosis of the disease is made, the necessary treatment method is decided by a specialist doctor and the treatment process is planned. 

How Is Lymphedema Treated? 

In the treatment of lymphedema, a method consisting of four steps and called complex discharge physiotherapy is used. These steps can be listed as follows:

Manual Lymph Drainage: It is aimed to relieve swelling by using special massage techniques. It is possible to transfer the lymph fluid from the edematous areas to the working lymph nodes.

Compression with Bandages and Stockings: It is aimed to preserve the effectiveness of the lymph system with the bandaging method whose pressure is adjusted in a balanced way. At the same time, re-accumulation of lymph fluid in the edematous area is prevented. Compression stockings are used after the treatment. These socks are custom made by taking measurements.

Skin Care: Moisturizing creams with a pH value of 5.5 are used to prevent the skin from drying out.

Exercise: It is based on providing muscle activity for the realization of fluid drainage. All exercises are performed with the use of bandages and stockings.Full recovery can be achieved with the right methods used by specialist physicians in lymphedema. 

What is Lipedema?

Lipedema, also called painful cellulite, is a condition in which the fatty tissue under the skin increases, thereby thickening the area. In cases where the disease has just started, people may continue their normal activities, while in advanced cases, there may be difficulties in walking or moving. Lipedema, which is sometimes compared with lymphedema, cannot be resolved with methods such as exercise, various sports activities or a balanced diet, so it is necessary to seek help from a doctor. Although lymphedema usually begins in girls during puberty, it can also develop due to changes in hormones at any time in life. 

What are Lipedema Types?

Lipedema is usually an inherited disease. However, it can also develop due to hormonal changes or certain disorders that occur in the veins. Lipedema types are listed in five different groups as follows:

What Are the Symptoms of Lipedema? 

Lipedema, which is predominantly seen in women, manifests itself with different symptoms.

Some common symptoms are:

  • When the area is pressed with a finger, there is little or no depression,
  • While the hips,thighs and legs are affected, the feet are not.
  • A feeling of coldness and easy bruising occur on the skin,
  • Rarely, the arms may be affected.
  • Despite weight loss or calorie burning, swelling remains,
  • Complaints increase in summer days or in hot weather.

Lipedema can be diagnosed as a result of the doctor's physical examination. It manifests itself with the disproportionate accumulation of fat in certain parts of the body. 

How is Lipedema Treated? 

Many of the treatment methods used in the treatment of lymphedema can also be used in the treatment of lipedema. For example, skin care, manual lymph drainage, bandaging and special exercises are among the methods used during lipoedema treatment. Apart from these, other treatment methods that can be applied are:

  • To implement a diet program under the control of a dietitian
  • Increasing physical activities and exercising regularly
  • Using pressure clothes,Plastic surgery and liposuction treatment.

During lipoedema, the person may also be adversely affected mentally. As a matter of fact, various mental problems, especially depression, can occur. Therefore, receiving psychosocial help can also be considered as a treatment method. The whole process of treatment should be planned by the doctor and should be acted upon only with the doctor's recommendations.  

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