• Understanding lymphoedema post mastectomy – What is it, how to control it and precautions.

    Lymphoedema is swelling caused by excessive accumulation of lymph in the tissues in a specific area. Most commonly, this occurs in the shoulder, arm and hand. Lymphoedema can occur six weeks to three years post mastectomy, however the
    severity of this is determined by the extent of the surgery conducted.

    Lymphoedema can cause decreased capability of using the arm in activities of daily living and therefore decreasing this is very important. Ways to do decrease this are by carrying out active exercises and anti‐oedema exercises prescribed by your occupational therapist. Another important way in which to reduce lymphoedema is by using a custom made pressure garment. The pressure garment will work to decrease the swelling as well as maintain the reduction in swelling. Your occupational therapist will be able to fabricate this pressure garment as well as give you a home exercise programme to assist in reducing the swelling. Important precautions to be aware of are voiding the following ‐ pressure over the affected sides shoulder (e.g. backpack), very heavy lifting/pulling, temperature extremes and excessive sun exposure.

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