Lymphedema


At our clinic we are fortunate to have a certified therapist in Lymphedema. Laura Panzarella, DPT, has completed specialized certification for Lymphedema management. She has extensive hours treating women with secondary edema related to breast cancer. She also treats patients with primary Lymphedema in both lower and upper extremities. She is very knowledgeable, and will help those dealing with post-operative changes. Our Lymphedema Therapist has post-graduate certification in Lymphedema and is highly recommended by local area vascular physicians. Manual Lymph Drainage is used along with bandaging and compression garments. Therapeutic exercise programs are custom to the specific patient and compression pumps are used to aid in reduction of fluid.

An overview of our body, like the arteries, veins and capillaries that transport blood through our bodies, our bodies also contains an extensive drainage system that returns water and proteins from our tissues back to the bloodstream. The lymphatic system has two major functions. First, it works to regulate the amount of fluids within our bodies. Secondly, it is responsible for “taking out the trash”, that is collecting waste products, such as dead bloodcells and pathogens from the interstitial fluid and filters it before returning it to the bloodstream.

Lymphedema is a swelling of a body part most often the extremities. It can also occur in the face, abdomen or genitals. It is the result of abnormal accumulation of protein rich edema fluid in the affected area. Primary Lymphedema is the result of abnormal development of the lymphatic system (lymphatic dysplasia). While it may be present at birth, it more often develops later in life without obvious cause. Secondary lymphedema, which is much more common, is the result of surgery or the side effects of radiation therapy for cancer. Secondary Lymphedema may also occur after scarring, injury, trauma, or infection of the lymphatic system. Treatment involves meticulous skin and nailcare, specialized massage techniques known as Manual Lymphatic Drainage. Special pressure bandaging and garments are then applied, and a specialized exercise program is given. Treatment typically requires 2-3x/week for 6-8 weeks, this could vary depending upon the specifics of the condition. Initial treatment may be 1-2 hours depending upon condition and could be daily for the first 1-2 weeks of treatment. Compression pumps are also used for the treatment of lymphedema. Patients will be trained in self management, skin care, therapeutic exercises, and application of bandages.

Our services will remain available at all times, should complications require additional support services.