Lymphedema Frequently Asked Questions


How will my swelling go down?

Complete Decongestive Therapy has been proven through research to be the most effective way to reduce swelling. This treatment includes a process for manual lymphatic drainage by a special unique massage to help the excess fluid drain out of the swollen limb or area. This therapy treatment also uses exercise to help move this fluid from your swollen tissue as well as some compression type wraps to prevent the fluid from accumulating in the affected area.

When fluid has accumulated for a long period of time, the unique massage helps to thin out the fluid. The treatment provides a way to help move the excess fluid, via massage and exercise, to get your limbs functioning better. Compression wrapping also has been shown to be effective to prevent this fluid from sitting in your limb. The wraps change the pressure in the affected area to help keep the swelling from coming back.


How long does it take?

You can expect to see improvement after the first session of Complete Decongestive Therapy. Traditionally, a course of 2 – 3 treatment sessions a week, over a period of 2 months. has been shown to provide best results. Because swelling is often associated with other long term conditions, you will be taught how to manage this on your own after your course of therapy. It’s advised that you might need to come in periodically for support in helping you manage your condition. Those who follow the course are often amazed at how much better they are able to enjoy so much more in their lives.


What does this treatment cost?

This treatment is generally covered by most insurance. Co-pays and deductibles associated with your health care insurance are applicable. Additional costs may be incurred with the compression wraps, bandages, stockings, or sleeves. Often your health care insurance will help pay for a few of these bandaging wraps each year. Bandaging costs outside of insurance can range from $150.00 to $500.00 for a custom case.

It’s important to check with your insurance to understand your benefits as they apply to this treatment. Because there is so much variation in bandaging costs, it’s important to see a certified lymphedema therapist as they will be best able to show you which bandages are essential for helping you recover.


Will my limb function improve?

Research shows that limb function can definitely improve with this Complete Decongestive Therapy treatment. Lymphatic fluid is very heavy. Once it starts moving out of the affected areas, you will immediately feel improvement. Your tissues become softer and more flexible in the affected areas. This enables you to move more freely and enjoy more use of your limbs to do the things you love to do.


How can this be managed on my own?

During your treatment sessions, your therapist will provide a variety of resources for you to be able to manage this condition on your own. This will include education on how to perform self massage to promote fluid movement out of the affected area. You will also be shown the proper exercise that pump fluid out of these problem places. They are called muscle pumping exercises.

You will also learn prevention/management techniques to minimize fluid accumulation. Skin care management is also an important part of your program to help prevent infections. You will gain a greater base knowledge of how fluid balances in your body to prevent any additional swelling. After a few sessions of therapy, you will feel an increased sense of control over what is going on in your body.


How will this treatment help my wounds?

Research has shown that compression is the best way to help close wounds associated with swelling. It has been seen to be highly effective in getting the proper nutrition and recovery fluids to those parts of your body that aren’t healing. While you may need to have a physician manage you with an antibiotic if there is infection present, it’s amazing how fast a wound can respond to compression in treatment.