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Lymphedema Therapy

At Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson, you have access to lymphedema therapy and other sophisticated services. Our comprehensive approach includes early detection, personalized treatments and surgery for advanced forms of the disease.

Lymphedema is a condition that causes the clear fluid of the lymph system to collect in the soft tissues. This can lead to permanent swelling, hard skin and limbs that feel heavy. Early detection and therapies from an experienced team can lower this risk.

Lymphedema occurs with many types of cancer. It’s more common in breast cancer, head and neck cancers, and melanoma, especially if treatment requires removing lymph nodes.

Why choose us for lymphedema therapy?

Lymphedema therapy is an important cancer rehabilitation service. You receive services from highly skilled physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors (physiatrists) who specialize in lymphedema care. They use leading methods to diagnose and treat this condition. Physiatrists work with physical therapists and surgeons (when necessary) to deliver timely treatments that are responsive to your needs.

Early lymphedema detection

We use sophisticated testing (bioimpedance spectroscopy) to screen for lymphedema. This method uses gentle electrical currents to detect changes in the amount of fluid in your cells. The test is so sensitive it often detects lymphedema before swelling occurs and you notice symptoms.

Our specialists perform testing early in your cancer treatment, making it easier to identify fluid changes that require treatment.

Coordinated lymphedema therapy

Treatments for early-stage lymphedema include compression garments that help prevent fluid build-up. Your care may also include physical therapy to help you feel more comfortable and decrease fluid build-up. The therapist may guide you through exercises or use lymphatic massage techniques to help move lymph away from damaged vessels. Therapists are in regular contact with our physiatrist to monitor your response to treatment. This frequent communication enables us to tailor therapies to your changing needs.

Lymphedema surgery

We go beyond standard therapies to give you more opportunities for healing if other therapies are not successful. If surgery is necessary, our team is one of the few in South Texas with a plastic surgeon specializing in lymphatic microsurgery. We use surgical microscopes to repair or connect vessels that enable the body to clear lymph build-ups and provide relief.