Can I prevent lymphedema?

It is important to understand that there is no guarantee that you can prevent lymphedema if you are at risk for it. If you are at risk for lymphedema, you should ask your physician to refer you to a certified lymphedema therapist (CLT) to discuss your individual case. Your CLT will screen you for lymphedema by taking baseline measurements of at risk and unaffected limbs to keep in your records. 

You might also want to review these helpful guides. Many of them are common sense approaches to living not only a healthy life, but to helping reduce your risk of lymphedema.

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eating a healthy balanced diet and exercising can help you keep a normal body weight, which can also significantly lower your risk of lymphedema.
  • Exercise: Before beginning an exercise routine, check with your medical professional or Certified Lymphedema Therapist. It’s useful to gradually build up the time and intensity of your workouts to see how your body reacts.
  • Keep an eye out: You’ll also want to monitor the at-risk area to see if there is any abnormal swelling, change in sensation, shape of the limb, soreness or heaviness.
  • Create a good skin care routine:  Keep your skin clean, dry, and well cared for. Make sure to apply moisturizer to keep your skin from cracking, and wear sunscreen and bug spray when you’re outdoors.
  • Know the signs of infections: Infections are dangerous for anyone, but especially for those as risk of lymphedema. Make sure to clean all cuts, scrapes, and insect bites when they happen and keep an eye on them. It’s a great idea to keep a small first aid kit with you when you travel or are outdoors.
  • Protect your at-risk limb: Try to avoid injury to that area such as cuts, scrapes, or even needle sticks. If possible, ask your medical professionals to do blood draws or vaccines on the limb that is not at risk.
  • Avoid tight fitting objects on your at-risk limb: Try not to wear tight fitting clothes, rings, jewelry, or carry a heavy bag or purse on the at-risk side. This also goes for avoiding blood pressure cuffs on the at-risk side if possible.