Lymphoedema Leaflets

The aim of this leaflet is to inform you of what may happen at your appointment and in the future.

Your first appointment may last up to two hours.  You will be assessed by a Specialist Lymphoedema Practitioner.

We are happy for you to bring a companion, and please remember to bring a current list of medication that you take.

What is lymphoedema?

Lymphoedema is swelling, generally in a limb but it can be other parts of the body.  There are many types of lymphoedema or chronic (on-going) oedema.

It develops when the lymphatic system is not working correctly.  In a healthy body the lymphatic system drains fluid from the skin surface.  Oedema occurs when this does not happen.

Lymphoedema is oedema resulting from lymph overload.

This may be due to many reasons:

Some people are born with inadequate drainage channels (lymphatics).  This is known as primary lymphoedema.

Chronic oedema can also be due to damage to the lymphatics from an accident or infection and may also be due to cancer and its treatment. 

This, again, causes damage to the lymphatic system so that it cannot drain correctly, leading to an increase of fluid under the skin. This is known as secondary lymphoedema.

Your therapist will discuss the cause of your oedema at your appointment.

What can we do?

Treatment is relatively easy and uncomplicated.  The most important aspects of care are:

We advise you about moisturising your skin daily.  This prevents the skin drying out and allowing bacteria in.  It also helps to keep the skin supple.

The lymphatic system also has an immunological response (fights infection).  Therefore, preventing infection is important to maintain and improve your condition.

This is important to help the lymphatics to work better.  Exercising with the compression garments on works with the muscle pump, and encourages lymph flow out of the limb.  Regular gentle exercise is recommended and works all the joints within the limb.  Aerobic exercise increases circulation and therefore increases the production of lymph. 

Simple Lymphatic Drainage (SLD)
A technique used to gently massage the skin by moving fluid to an area where it can drain normally.  This can be taught to you and/or family members or carers.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)

•    This treatment is carried out by a trained therapist.
•    Massage works on the superficial lymphatics.
•    Aims to clear congestion at the root of the limb, can soften hardened tissues.  
•    Most effective treatment for midline lymphoedema ie head, neck, breast. 
•    Can relieve pain

This is fundamental in most lymphoedema treatment.  It may be used in the form of compression hosiery/elastic stockings or bandages.  It works by providing ‘graduated compression’.  It also works by making the muscles work harder against it and stopping fluid coming back into the skin.  Each garment will last 4-6 months.    If your swelling changes so may your hosiery prescription.  Please discuss any concerns with us.

Healthy Eating
Healthy eating is important.  It is known that a high body weight stops the lymphatics working well.  Please let your therapist know if you would like help in this area of your care.

Decongestive Lymphatic Therapy (DLT)
This is a combination of some or all of the above.  Some people may require a course of DLT.  

This will be appropriate if you have had lymphoedema for a long time, if your limb is leaking or to improve the shape of your limb.  If this is required we will discuss it at your appointment and provide you with more information.
Our aim: 

•    To help you to improve and self-manage your lymphoedema/oedema.

Self-management is fundamental with lymphoedema

We do not provide an emergency service.  Any queries outside opening hours should be addressed by your GP or out of hour’s service.  

Messages may be left on our answerphone for non-urgent queries.


Any information that is provided will be treated in accordance with Worcester Health & Care NHS Trust’s policy and that of the NMC guidelines for record keeping.

Worcestershire Lymphoedema Service

The Lymphoedema Clinic would welcome any comments or feedback regarding the service.

Lymphoedema Clinic
Pershore Hospital, 2nd Floor
Queen Elizabeth Drive
Pershore WR10 1PS

Monday – Thursday 8.30 am – 5 pm
Friday 8.30 am – 2 pm

Lymphoedema Specialist Practitioners:
Michelle Lock, Victoria Buxton
Medical Secretary:  Debbie Downes

Satellite Clinics:
St Richard’s Hospice, Worcester
Kemp Hospice, Kidderminster
Primrose Hospice, Bromsgrove

Useful contacts:
Lymphoedema Support Network (LSN)
St Luke’s Crypt
Sydney Street
Tel:  020 7351 4480