Lymphedema is a chronic condition that affects the lymphatic system, resulting in swelling of the affected limbs and often leading to open wounds in the skin if left untreated. Lymphedema may be a congenital issue caused by a parasitic infection or resulting from surgery or radiation treatments. People with lymphedema will require routine, consistent compression bandaging to support the lymphatic system and prevent further damage to the integumentary system and physical mobility decline.
Wounds are commonly associated with progressive lymphedema due to excessive interstitial fluid leaking through the skin’s surface. Drainage can break down dermal tissue and potentially cause a deal of trouble in healing with an increased risk for infection. Wound drainage needs to be managed in concert with compression to maximize healing for people with lymphedema. Specialized training exists for certified lymphedema specialists, including manual lymphatic drainage and complete decongestive therapy with wrapping techniques and often includes an aspect of wound care treatments as needed.