Other treatments for lymphoedema
Occasionally, other treatments may be used to treat lymphoedema.
Some of the following treatments are new and more research is needed to find out how effective they are in treating lymphoedema.
This is rarely used to treat lymphoedema. It’s sometimes used to reduce swelling around the face or genital areas or to reduce the size of an affected limb by removing skin and underlying tissue.
Highly specialised surgical techniques are being developed, which involve transplanting or creating new lymph channels in the affected area. This is still experimental and not widely available.
Liposuction is sometimes used in advanced, more complex lymphoedema. It involves surgically removing extra fatty tissue through several small cuts in the skin using a vacuum. After the operation, a compression bandage is applied to the limb and it is elevated. After a couple of weeks, the bandages are replaced by compression garments. Garments need to be worn long-term to prevent an increase in the size of the limb.
Light energy from a special low-level, hand-held laser may improve lymph flow, soften hard tissue and reduce swelling. Research is ongoing to find out more about its possible benefits.
Lymphoedema taping (Kinesio® Taping)
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This is a special taping technique originally developed to treat sports injuries. More recently it has been used to treat lymphoedema.
A special, stretchy tape is applied directly onto the skin. It gently lifts the top layer of skin, to allow the superficial lymph fluid to flow more easily. The tape is waterproof and can be worn for several days at a time. It’s used in areas where it’s difficult to apply compression. Your lymphoedema specialist can tell you more about this technique.