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Health & Medicine

Have You Heard the Word “Lymphedema”? I. Skin Care - Avoid trauma/injuryvand feeling tight, decreased flexibility in the reduce infection risk

hand or wrist, difficulty fitting into cloth-

ply moisturizer daily to prevent chaffing of skin. 2. Do not cut cuticles and be careful with razors to avoid nicks and skin irritation. 3. Protect exposed skin with sunscreen and insect repellent. 4. Wear gloves while doing activities that may cause skin injury (i.e., gardening, working with tools, using chemicals such as detergent). 5. If scratches/punctures to skin occur, wash with soap and water, apply antibiotics, and observe for signs of infection (i.e. redness). 6. If a rash, itching, redness, pain, increased skin temperature, fever or flu-like symptoms occur, contact your physician immediately.

watch/bracelet tightness. Being aware of any changes is crucial to attending to the symptoms before the lymphedema becomes a significant problem. If you think you might have lymphedema you should make every attempt to be evaluated by a Certified Lymphedema Therapist. This could well be a visit for peace of mind, but it also could lead to proper treatment and management of the condition by using their special training in Com-plete Decongestive Therapy. This is a four part therapy to help your body clear itself of metabolic waste and protect you from pathogens and toxins. The parts are Manual Lymph Drainage, compression, skin care and exercise. The therapist will use these steps in the treatment plan and teach you how to self manage the condition. There are many specialized garments to help move the fluid and maintain circumferences in the arm. Some are for daytime wear, some are for nighttime wear. If the condition develops in the breast, chest or back, there is a very specialized garment to do that work. Also, with a breast

1. Keep extremity clean and dry and ap- ing in one specific area, or ring/wrist-


By: Susan Detar, CFM Owner, The Pink Door

f you have had breast cancer surgery you likely have. However, hearing the word and knowing how it might affect you may not have crossed paths. Lymphedema is an accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the interstitial tissue that causes swelling, most often in the arm(s) and/or leg(s), and occasionally in other parts of the body. Lymphedema can develop when lymphatic vessels are missing or impaired (primary), or when lymph vessels are damaged or lymph nodes removed (secondary). When the impairment becomes so great that the lymphatic fluid exceeds the lymphatic transport capacity, an abnormal amount of protein-rich fluid collects in the tissues of the affected area. Left untreated, this stagnant, protein-rich fluid not only causes tissue channels to increase in size and number, but also reduces oxygen availability in the transport system, interferes with wound healing, and provides a culture medium for bacteria that can result in infection. In this article we will discuss lymphedema as it might affect the upper extremity as a result of a breast cancer diagnosis. If you had breast surgery with axillary dissection, you were likely told to ensure no needle pricks or blood pressure cuffs on the surgery side arm. That is a good start to managing the risk of developing lymphedema, but there are many more tips to keep your lifelong risk minimized. If you also had radiation treatments, the system has had a double blow. Here is a list of things to keep in mind.

II. Activity / Lifestyle 1. Gradually build up the duration and in-

tensity of any activity or exercise and take frequent rest periods during activity to allow for limb recovery. 2. Monitor the extremity during and after activity for any change in size, shape, tissue, texture, soreness, heaviness or firmness. 3. Maintain optimal weight.

III. Avoid limb constriction 1. If possible, avoid having blood pressure

taken on the at risk arm. 2. Wear loose fitting jewelry and clothing.

IV. Compression Garments 1. Should be well-fitting and support the at

risk limb with a compression garment for strenuous activity (i.e. weight lifting, prolonged standing, running). 2. Wear a well-fitting compression garment for air travel (considered a significant preventive measure).

V. Extremes of Temperature 1. Avoid exposure to extreme cold, which

can be associated with rebound swelling, or chapping of skin. 2. Avoid prolonged (>15 minutes) exposure to heat, particularly hot tubs and saunas (never above 102° F.). If you have a feeling of fullness, heaviness, aching in the breast/chest or arm, these are indicators of a possible case of

Susan Detar is a Certified Mastectomy Fitter. The Pink Door is an accredited post-mastectomy care center. Our mission statement: “The Pink Door will be recognized as the preferred provider of foundations to women affected by breast cancer. We will offer a wide selection of products in a knowledgeable and caring environment. Our goal is to fulfill 80% of our customers’ needs on the first visit.” This mission extends to all women who walk through the door. You will be served in a warm, inviting boutique occupying a home in the south historic district of Palatka. Our job is to provide products that will make you look and feel better.

June/July 2014


Night Time Arm Sleeve

Bellisse Compressure Bra cancer diagnosis there are a number ways to receive financial assistance for these garments. Be well-informed and your own advocate.

San Jose Woman's Journal - June/July 2014  
San Jose Woman's Journal - June/July 2014  

Objective, Informational, Educational, for Women