• Is lymphadema after radical mastectomy preventable? What are some strategies? Im due for surgery in mid Jan. 2019.

    Asked by maryloumiles on Sunday, November 4, 2018

    Is lymphadema after radical mastectomy preventable? What are some strategies? Im due for surgery in mid Jan. 2019.

    11 Answers from the Community

    11 answers
    • lujos' Avatar

      I’m very interested in this topic, as I had a double mx 3 weeks ago, and am going in for an axillary node dissection tomorrow!

      6 months ago
    • beachbum5817's Avatar

      I am not sure if it is preventable or not, but I do know that not everyone gets it. My mother and sister-in-law never had it, and none of my friends have had it either. I was the "lucky" one in my circle to have it. Good luck with surgery. Take care.

      6 months ago
    • raven's Avatar

      There are therapists that can teach you to do your own lymph massage as a preventative move. Regaining range of motion in your arms and shoulders is important. Movement of the muscles is the primary source to move the lymph through your body, so try not to favor that arm. Carrying a shoulder bag can block some of the lymph channels, slowing natural drainage. I developed lymphedema about eight months after my surgery. and the single thing that helped me most is called Frequency Specific Microcurrent. I was told that once you have it, it never gets better - the goal is to keep it from getting worse. With Frequency Specific Microcurrent mine got better - not totally cured, but way way better.

      6 months ago
    • tlalex's Avatar

      I was told that it is always a possible factor no matter how many years go by and nothing can prevent it from happening but that there are precautions you can take that will greatly lower your risk such as daily arm/hand exercises/stretches to get lymph moving, drink plenty of water, low salt, clean diet, maintain healthy weight, stay active, avoid high heat on affected arm(s). Use compression sleeve and glove for high altitude, pressure or after long periods in hot/humid conditions, try to keep any injury, bug bits, shaving, cuticle clipping on affected arm to minimum. Most of these when you think about it are pretty common sense precautions-your affected lymph, healing and detox mechanism, has been compromised so treat it with with caution and kindness.

      6 months ago
    • Sunshine777's Avatar

      I got Lymphedema after a mastectomy, chemo and radiation. I was overweight when diagnosed with breast cancer... and personally, I feel that this was the main cause. Now, I am still overweight - but about 40 pounds lighter. Lymphedema is not the same bother that it was when I was heavier. WARNING: wear a sleeve when you fly.

      6 months ago
    • ChicagoSandy's Avatar

      You can lower the risk of LE by following the precautions tlalex outlined above, but you can't truly prevent it. The risk is unpredictable and lifelong, no matter how few nodes you've had removed. (Same goes for lymph node biopsies elsewhere in the body for cancers other than breast--truncal, abdominal and leg LE can happen).

      And if you've been diagnosed with LE, besides avoiding worsening it via focal constriction (tight jewelry, elastic sleeves, tourniquets), barometric pressure drops w/o wearing compression, and high temperature exposures (hot tubs, saunas & steam rooms), what you need to prevent is infection, which can lead to cellulitis causing life-threatening sepsis. When you get a manicure, insist your nail tech leave your cuticles alone except for obviously dead hangnails!

      6 months ago
    • gpgirl70's Avatar

      I went to a lymphedema therapist after chemo and before I started radiation. My oncologist felt it was very important to prevent lymphedema before radiation. I had 25 lymph nodes removed on my left side so my risk was high. I was given exercises to do 5 times a day during radiation. Now I do them when I wake up and before I go to bed. I did have a small flare up of lymphedema about a year after I finished treatment and went to a lymphedema specialist for lymph drainage massage. It has been two years since then and I haven't had a flare up.

      6 months ago
    • tracyt's Avatar

      I've had Lymphedema since 2013. There is no way of getting around it if you've had any lymph-nodes removed. I've been a patient at the lymphedema rehab center since 2013. My insurance paid 12,000 dollars for a machine to help manage it and I also wear a compression sleeve everyday. I have stage 4 triple negative metastatic breast cancer so Im continuously getting treatment. Some days (although I wear a sleeve) my arm swells and hurts like crazy but I Ive been dealing with it so long,(it sucks) but it's kind of normal to me.

      6 months ago
    • ruthieq's Avatar

      Lymphedema after mastectomy depends on how may lymphnodes they take. One or two may not develop any LE but it’s not impossible. If they take more because of involvement, then LE is fairly inevitable. Any time you disrupt the lymph system there is potential of backup of fluid. Keeping vigilant, following precautions will minimize LE. If you discover swelling beginning get a referral to an LE specialist in physical therapy. They can help with strategies and massage to reduce it and fit you for a sleeve to keep LE down.

      6 months ago
    • MLT's Avatar

      I developed lymphedema during chemo. Getting to a therapist for lymphatic massages is very important. Some surgeons have patients wear a sleeve after surgery for prevention. Experimental surgery is being performed at the time of axillary dissections to reconnect the passages for lymph fluid. Sounds like a breakthru, but will probably be a long time before insurance approves it.
      Meanwhile, get to the dr at the first sign of swelling, tightness, aches. It can be controlled with massages, sleeves, compression pumps, etc.
      I still use my arm for everything, has not restricted anything I need to do.
      We just all need to be very aware of any changes. Wishing the best for all going thru this.

      6 months ago
    • ChicagoSandy's Avatar

      The only reason they took four nodes instead of two was that each of my two sentinels had a non-sentinel stuck to it (like a bunch of grapes).

      6 months ago

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