Swelling from Lymphedema? New Device Offers Convenient In-Home Treatment

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Lymphedema is an extremely common—and extremely maddening—complication of surgery, trauma, or radiation. It’s often a result of cancer surgery. About 15 to 46 percent of breast cancer patients will experience lymphedema at some point, and the percentage is higher if someone has undergone a mastectomy.

A healthy lymph system removes waste and toxins from the body by flushing away waste in the lymph fluid. The fluid carries toxins, bacteria, and damaged cells into the lymph nodes, where they will be flushed out before the lymph fluid returns to the body. Lymphedema is caused when lymph nodes and vessels are damaged from surgery or other trauma.

If the lymph system is damaged, it is less able to move fluid through the body and fluid essentially gets backed up, causing extreme swelling. This swelling can cause heavy limbs, embarassment, and decreased flexibility and mobility. It can also cause the skin infection cellulitis, which makes the skin red and painful to the touch. For the full article on lyphedema, click here.

Up until now, treatment options included compression sleeves, bandages, surgery or manual lymph drainage, a type of massage. But now there’s something better available.

The recently-launched Flexitouch system is a machine that basically applies the tried-and-true principles of manual lymph drainage with a machine. Instead of having to go to physical therapy or figure out how to do manual lymph drainage on their own, patients can now use the system to massage fluid buildup back into their body without having to leave their home, or even their chair.

Photo: YouTube/Tactile Medical

Photo: YouTube/Tactile Medical

The system is basically a giant compression sleeve that uses individual air pockets activated in a specific sequence to massage fluid back into the lymph system so that it’s evenly distributed throughout the body. The system can be used for legs, arms, and even the face. The Flexitouch is easy to use in the privacy of home and relatively easy to transport.

According to the Flexitouch’s promotional video (below), using the system dramatically reduced lymphedema-related outpatient healthcare costs—studies showed a 53 percent reduction in costs for cancer patients and a 65 percent reduction for those with non-cancer-related lymphedema. The studies also demonstrated that using the Flexitouch reduced the occurrence of cellulitis is cancer-related lymphedema patients by a whopping 79 percent!

Photo: YouTube/Tactile Medical

Photo: YouTube/Tactile Medical

The FDA approved the system in 2017, and it has now been launched commercially throughout the United States.

A device that reduces costs, risks, and hospital visits absolutely sounds like a win-win. If you struggle with lymphedema, you may consider asking your doctor about the Flexitouch. (No, we are not being paid by Flexitouch!)

You can see the Flexitouch explained in the video below. It’s a long video; if you skip ahead to about minute 1:40 you can see how the device works. Stay healthy, friends!

Check it out for yourself in the video below!

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Katie Taylor started writing in 5th grade and hasn't stopped since. Her favorite place to pen a phrase is in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, but she's been known to write in parking lots on the backs of old receipts if necessary. She and her husband live cozily in the Pacific Northwest enjoying rainy days and Netflix.
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