Is this Lymphedema or just swelling after surgery?

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Is this Lymphedema or just swelling after surgery?

Postby Devereux » Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:37 am

I have spent lots of time reading about lymphedema, but I am not sure if that is what my problem is. I am a 52 year old 100% healthy female who was born with bilateral hip displacement and had 2 hip replacement/hip reconstruction operations in the past 2 years. The last operation (left side) was done 9 months ago. Both operations lasted more that 6 hours and after my last operation, there was no drainage from the incision. The drain was taken out the day after the operation. The first operation wound drained well. Both scars have healed completely, BUT I still have swelling in my thighs. The thigh from my last operation (left side) is 6 cm larger that the other one which is also still larger than it was before the operation. There is a definate 'spongy' feeling along the scar running to the back of my legs. There is also fluid in my left knee. Some days my left ankle also swells, but that goes away. The swelling in my other leg is not so pronounced.

In the beginning, while I was treating the scar with Vit E oil, there was a very distinct smell while I was running the applicator over the scar. I believe it is the same smell you get when a wound goes septic. That is why I thought it might be a lymph problem and I started researching it. I also contacted a physiotherapist who gave me 7 'massages' that was billed as manual lymph drainage. I was also given exercises to do, both for lymph drainage and to strengthen my hip muscles as well as to regain my balance. The massage sessions did not reduce the width of my leg at all and when I started reading about manual lymph drainage, I realized that my therapist actually massaged my leg. Not the light touch that are mentioned on most web sites.

Before I go any further, I would like to find out from somebody with experience if this sounds like a lymph problem, or just 'normal' post operative swelling (bearing in mind the lenght of the actual operation and the 'panel beating' my limb(s) went through). If it IS a lymph problem, I am just scared that it can become worse (like the cases on the web) if left untreated.

Thx in anticipation

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Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:38 am

Re: Is this Lymphedema or just swelling after surgery?

Postby patoco » Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:41 am

Hi Devereaux

I can understand your concern. In my personal opinion, operative selling should have disappeared quite a while ago and I am concerned about the possibility of lymphedema too. Also, there have been reported cases of leg lymphedema from joint replacement.

Your best bet is to get (demand don't ask) a referral to a ceritifed lymphedema therapist in your area for a complete evaluation. They will be able to determine by physical examination whether it is edema or lymphedema.


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