Lymphedema and Weight Loss

Lymphedema and Weight Loss

A Look At Weight Loss And Lymphedema

When an increase occurs in lymph fluid or a blockage happens in the vessels that form the lymphatic system, the limb or other body tissue begins to swell. We call this lymphedema. The vessels of the lymph system are responsible for transporting excess fluid and protein to the blood stream. Bacteria, toxins and other foreign bodies are trapped by small round organs named node lines. Losing weight is possible if you have lymphedema, it is achieved through exercise and a healthy eating plan. While lymphedema cannot be cured, exercise has the potential to improve circulation within the lymph system, this in turn can reduce the area of swelling. A single and uniform weight loss plan that will be suitable for all lymphedema patients does not exist, since the causes of lymphedema vary.

The First Step

Speak with your physician to confirm that it is safe for you to begin a weight loss program. Since lymphedema can be caused by such things as infections, cancer, radiation and genetic issues, ensuring that the chosen weight loss program does not aggravate the lymphedema or other medical problem, is crucial.

The Second Step

Join the Lymphedema Awareness Foundation or other online support groups, this will allow you to communicate with people in a similar situation regarding exercise and diet plans.

The Third Step

Analyse available information to see the effect of certain sports and exercises on people who have lymphedema. One example of such research is an essay called, ‘Cool Tips For A Hot Summer’. In this essay the National Lymphedema Network suggested exercises which are low impact, such as swimming. On the other hand sports like tennis, which has the risk of a lymphedematous limb being struck by a ball as well as engaging in a repetitive action where resistance plays a role, may be a riskier choice. That being said, the National Cancer Institute feels that breast cancer patients who have lymphedema could benefit from aerobic exercises and a gradual weight lifting program.

The Fourth Step

Make an appointment with a dietitian to create an eating plan that will help you achieve your weight loss goal. Currently, a specific lymphedema diet does not exist. MayoClinic.com recommends that people with lymphedema ensure they have plenty of fruit and vegetables in their diet, the same advice which is given to people who don’t have lymphedema.

The Fifth Step

If your weight is in excess of 100 pounds and you have lymphedema, then you should meet with a professional in obesity. ‘Ostomy Wound Management’ printed an article which pointed to a lymphedema epidemic among people who are morbidly obese, such patients are encouraged to engage in specialised care, this may include bariatric surgery which reduces the stomach size.

The Sixth Step

As you begin the weight loss plan, make sure you give extra attention to caring for your lymphedematous limb or tissue. On the website Lymphedema Treatment, the physical therapist Bonnie B. Lasinski, advises that patients should always use their compression bandages or garments when they are engaging in exercise. Bowling, jogging and tennis are considered to be higher risk choices for lymphedema patients, whereas swimming, quick walking and cycling carry less risk, although if it does not aggravate their condition, patients can certainly try jogging. On days that the lymphedematous limb is swollen, it should be raised and rested and the person should refrain from exercise.

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