Lymphedema is a collection of fluid that causes swelling (edema) in
the arms or legs. This type of edema occurs when the amount of lymph fluid in a
person's arm or leg exceeds the body's ability to remove it, and the fluid then
collects in the tissues of the limb.
One of the causes of lymphedema is surgery to remove lymph nodes,
usually during cancer treatment. Lymphedema causes the blood vessels and lymph
channels in the limb to increase in size and number. It also reduces oxygen
delivery to the tissues, interferes with wound healing, and can lead to
infection. Lymphedema is often a permanent condition and may not completely go
away, even with treatment. The amount of swelling may fluctuate at different
Lymphedema is often managed with physical therapy and compression
sleeves or stockings.
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Douglas A. Stewart, MD - Medical Oncology
The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.