What is lymphedema?
Lymphatic obstruction or lymphedema is a condition caused by damage or blockage of lymph nodes that results in excess fluid retention in tissues and swelling.
Lymphedema develops with abnormal accumulation of lymph and damaged lymphatic system. The fluid then collects in the tissue causing swelling in some parts of the body. Those parts are most commonly legs or arms.
What causes lymphedema in legs?
Lymphedema in legs is caused by a blockage in the lymphatic system. This blockage is commonly caused by damaged lymph nodes as a result of cancer treatment.
Lymphedema develops when the lymph fluid doesn’t drain well, so it builds up in the tissue causing swelling in the legs. The swelling makes a feeling of heaviness and discomfort, restricts flexibility and motion and aches.
Within time, lymphedema can develop fibrosis (skin-thickening) or other skin diseases.
Now that we know what causes lymphedema in legs, let’s talk about who is threatened of developing it.
Is lymphedema hereditary?
There are two types of lymphedema – primary and secondary.
Primary lymphedema is a genetic or developmental mutation that causes impairment of lymph nodes. Even though there are not firm proofs of primary lymphedema being a hereditary disease, it tends to run in families, thus it is classified as hereditary.
There are 3 types of primary lymphedema according to age.
- Congenital lymphedema (Lymphedema I) means that it is onset on birth. This type is also called Noone-Milroy syndrome or Milroy diseases and can be seen in newborns when their extremities tend to swell.
- Hereditary lymphedema II (Lymphedema Praecox Meige) is commonly developed at a young age, between puberty and adulthood (35 years).
- Hereditary lymphedema III - appears in adults older than 35.
Secondary lymphedema is caused by damaged, removed or injured lymph vessels and lymphatic systems.
Reasons can be numerous, but the most common reasons are cancer, serious and invasive operations, cancer treatment and radiation, obesity, infections, venous diseases or trauma.
What are the stages of lymphedema?
So, now we have a clue on how the disease is developed, but what are the stages of lymphedema?
If the disease is not treated constantly and with care, there is a big chance of fast progress. The speed of the progression depends on patients, and some progress faster than others.
There are 4 stages of lymphedema:
Stage 1: Latent lymphedema
Stage one doesn’t usually show any signs or symptoms, even though the lymphatic system is damaged. In the post-operative patients or cancer survivors, it can take years for the disease to develop and to show.
Stage 2: Mild lymphedema
Mild lymphedema suggests early retention of the excess fluid. In this stage, the swelling will not be severe, but there might come to pitting. Pitting means that with applied pressure to the skin, a relief print or a dent of the applied object (a finger) could stay in the skin for a longer time. In this stage, the swelling can be reduced by elevating the feet or compression socks.
Stage 3: Moderate lymphedema
In this stage, lymphedema becomes permanent, meaning that it cannot be reduced or prevented with elevating. Applying pressure to the skin no longer leaves a print, but the skin starts to thicken and develop fibrosis.
Stage 4: Severe lymphedema (elephantiasis)
The skin thickens and it comes to developing od severe limb deformity called elephantiasis. The skin suffers many problems like hyperpigmentation, wart growths and collecting of fat.
Is lymphedema painful?
In severe cases such as stage 4, lymphedema can cause pain and movement restriction. In the early stages, lymphedema is painless.
How to treat lymphedema?
There is no cure for lymphedema, but the early symptoms can be reduced, and the disease can be prevented in some cases.
Treating lymphedema includes exercising and movement, massages, bandage, pneumatic compression, elevating the limbs, compression garments (compression socks, compression gloves) and surgical treatments.
Preventing lymphedema also includes exercising, keeping an eye on the diet, maintaining body hygiene, wearing the right clothes and accessories (gloves in the garden, compression socks in the gym), etc. Wearing compression garment in the early stages, but also as a precaution can help not only lymphedema but also venous insufficiency, blood circulation problems, and swelling.
Does losing weight help lymphedema?
Some studies have shown that losing weight can reduce lymphedema. Obesity can significantly increase your chances of getting this disease, as more fat requires more blood vessels.
Benefits of compression socks for lymphedema
The benefits of compression socks for lymphedema are numerous, as the compression material helps with reducing swelling, ache, and the feeling of heaviness.
Lymphedema garments include all the compression garments for your extremities, such as compression gloves or compression stocking and socks.
Skineez Hydrating medical-grade compression socks are made to help blood circulation have natural and healthy blood flow and to support natural lymph fluid drainage. These hydrating lymphedema socks can be used in the latent to moderate stages of the disease and have an impact on reducing problems. They are also hydrating and infused with nurturing ingredients making them healthy for your skin.
Lymphedema socks can have different levels of compression, going from mild to strong. Stronger compression should be discussed with a doctor. When you are searching for the perfect lymphedema stocking, you should consider the level of ache or swelling, and you should always consult a medical expert.
Pressure stocking for lymphedema doesn’t help when you develop severe elephantiasis.
How do you find the right compression socks for lymphedema?
The difference between compression lymphedema socks is in their level of compression. With consulting your doctor, you would have a better idea of what you need.
Compression socks for lymphedema can range from mild, moderate to strong compression, and what you need depends on the level and stage of lymphedema you have.
The most common garments are compression stockings for leg lymphedema, although there are also compression gloves, that we have at Skineez.
How long to wear compression socks for lymphedema?
You should wear lymphedema compression garments every day. Put them on the first thing in the morning and wear them throughout the whole day. You should take off your socks before you go to bed and wash them for the next day.
By washing them daily, you are preventing infections caused by bacteria or fungi. You can take them off when you are elevating your legs, but when walking or sitting with your legs down, you should not take them off.Skineez Hydrating compression socks will last 4 months with proper care. Every 10th time you wash your clothes, you should use our Replenishing spray to reinfuse them with hydrating skin-nurturing ingredients. This way they will be as good as new, keeping your skin fresh and making you comfortable for a long time.