Lymphedema can occur in women and in men when lymph nodes are damaged, blocked or removed. This can occur because of illness, injury or as a result of certain cancers or other life-threatening diseases. When the lymphatic system is compromised, lymph fluid builds up, causing uncomfortable swelling, pain and stiffness––primarily in the arms and legs. Left unchecked, lymphedema can affect your daily life.
Lymphedema in Men
So often, lymphedema is considered a condition experienced only by women or those who have received treatment for breast cancer. In reality, men are just as likely to develop lymphedema after surgery that removes or blocks lymph nodes, or if they sustain injury by radiation. And yes, men can have breast cancer. After all, they still have breast tissue. Lymphedema causes the same issues, symptoms, challenges, and problems in both males and females. So, why the perception that lymphedema only affects women?
The biggest difference between genders when it comes to lymphedema has nothing to do with actual occurrences, but who seeks treatment, and when. Women are much more likely to reach out to their medical professionals when lymphedema begins. And if men do seek treatment, the lymphedema is usually much more advanced because of the delay in treatment.
Help is Available
There is nothing noble about “toughing it out.” Ignoring lymphedema does not make it go away. Instead, get educated on the treatments and tools available to relieve the swelling and pain, manage and reduce episodes, and improve quality of life. Sometimes men may need encouragement to be proactive and seek treatment. That’s okay, too. After all, we were never meant to go through life alone but to walk together in community, in good times and in hard things.
Talk to your medical professional for case-specific guidance. Preventing and reducing lymphedema episodes is the first line of defense. These measures include:
- Staying hydrated
- Getting and staying active
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Reducing salt intake
- Protect the skin from injury or trauma on affected sites
- Use bandages or compression garments, especially at night, to reduce and prevent swelling.
If prevention and self-care are not providing the relief you need, ask for additional help. Therapies available include:
- Manual lymph drainage (a special type of massage performed by a trained therapist)
- Wraps or compression garments
- Pneumatic compression (a pump)
Education and Support
While our name may be Pretty in Pink Boutique, male or female, we are here to educate and support you in your journey with lymphedema. Contact us at 615-777-7465 or email us at [email protected] with questions about lymphedema or to schedule a fitting appointment for compression garments. We will work with you, your prescribing doctor and your insurance to get you the relief and education you deserve.