Types of Lymphedema

types of lymphedema

Our lymphatic system in the body is a combination of lymph nodes and vessels. The lymph vessels transport a fluid that primarily consists of water, protein, fats, and other waste our cells dispel. This fluid is taken to our lymph nodes, where it is filtered and recycled back into our bloodstream. When our lymph nodes fail and the fluid builds up, you are experiencing a condition called lymphedema. Individuals can develop one of two different types of lymphedema.

Types of Lymphedema – Primary Lymphedema

The first of the 2 types of lymphedema is known as primary lymphedema. This condition is due to developmental defects that cause damage to your lymph system. Primary lymphedema can develop at three different stages of your life. Primary lymphedema which develops as early as childbirth is known as congenital onset. Praecox onset is when primary lymphedema develops after childbirth but before the age of 35. Third, tardum onset is when primary lymphedema develops after the age of 35.

Primary lymphedema can have three different sets of abnormalities that develop. The first, lymphatic aplasia, is rare and occurs when the lymph system never develops. The second, lymphatic hypoplasis, is common and is when the lymph system is underdeveloped, resulting in a reduced amount of lymph nodes and vessels. And third, lymphatic hyperplasia, is when the lymph vessels and nodes are enlarged, which can impact your lymphatic flow and valve functioning.

Secondary Lymphedema

The second of the 2 types of lymphedema is called secondary lymphedema and occurs when external trauma causes an impairment to the lymph system. This trauma is most commonly caused by surgery for cancer treatment and chemo therapy. Physical trauma such as bodily injury and resulting infections can also occur, resulting in secondary lymphedema. Obesity and chronic venous insufficiency can also overwhelm your lymph system, resulting in secondary lymphedema.

Onset of Lymphedema

Regardless of your type of lymphedema, the symptoms of lymphedema are similar. Most individuals will experience swelling, pain, discomfort, recurring infections, skin hardening, and feelings of heaviness or tightness in the affected limb. If you begin to experience these symptoms, it is critical to seek medical assistance immediately.

Lymphedema Treatment at the Laser Vein Center

If you are experiencing primary or secondary lymphedema, make sure to seek out the Laser Vein Center for treatment. Our staff, led by Dr. Wright, is highly experienced in a variety of lymphedema treatments. Call today for your free consultation and see how the Laser Vein Center can help you.