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Apr 6, 2009 10:56AM
Hi, Kritzy and all,
Kritzy, I'm wondering about that explanation about lymphedema. When there's swelling in the lymphatic system it's not called lymphedema, it's called lymphangiectasia. Fortunately, that condition is rare. Lymphedema, on the other hand, is swelling of the tissues, not of the lymphatics -- exactly what he's saying you have.
If the lymphedema specialist you saw didn't diagnose it as lymphedema, perhaps you might find another one and get a second opinion. In case you'd like to do that, here's a page with suggestions for finding a therapist who is fully trained in lymphedema therapy near you:
The reason you want to get help with this soon is because lymphedema is staged, just like breast cancer is. If it isn't treated it progresses through the stages, resulting not only in further swelling, but in hardening of the tissue (fibrosis) that further blocks lymph flow. Left untreated, it also raises your risk of a serious, systemic infection because stagnant lymph fluid is an excellent breeding ground for bacteria.
Breast lymphedema (called "truncal lymphedema") can be present without any arm or hand lymphedema. But it does indicate a compromised lymph system that can lead to arm lymphedema too. So when you see a lymphedema therapist do also ask to be fitted for a compression sleeve and glove to use prophylactically when traveling or exercising.
Did your lymphedema therapist suggest compression for your breast? There are bras made specifically for this purpose, such as the Bellisse:
Most women with breast lymphedema, though, are able to use regular bras or camis that provide extra coverage and support. Scroll down toward the bottom of this page for suggestions for breast compression that can help to relieve the swelling and discomfort:
Itching, by the way, can indicate many things, but one of them is cellulitis, which can "smoulder" for awhile before becoming active. If you notice new redness, heat to the touch, or fever, do get help promptly.
Sure hope you get some solid answers -- and some relief! -- real soon!
Very gentle (((hugs))),