Your lymphatic system plays a large role in immune function and circulation. It consists of lymph vessels located just under the skin, meeting up with lymph nodes located in your neck, armpits, and groin. As the lymph vessels move fluid out of the tissues, waste products, bacteria, dead cells, and large protein molecules are collected. The waste products are carried to the lymph nodes to be broken down and eliminated, while the protein-rich fluid is transported back to the heart to rejoin circulation.
When lymph vessels are unable to transport lymph fluid back into circulation, it accumulates, resulting in swelling and thickening of the skin. This build-up of protein-rich lymph fluid is known as lymphedema. Once this condition occurs, the swelling may increase if an effective treatment program is not initiated.
Secondary lymphedema can be caused by severe chronic venous insufficiency. Long-standing chronic venous disease causes the vein walls to leak fluid. Over time, this leaking can cause irreversible damage to the lymphatic system.
Treatment of chronic venous disease closes down the leaking veins, which prevents further damage to the lymphatic system. We can also assist by diagnosing primary lymphedema during our ultrasound exam and helping you with referral for care with a lymphedema vein specialist.
To obtain a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, schedule a consultation with Dr. Norma Basinger Smith at 479.484.7100.