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Sunday, August 14, 2016

How Liposuction Can Bring Hope to Cancer Sufferers with Lymphoedema

For most cancer patients, early detection and timely treatment is usually enough to contain or even end the problem. However, after treatment, there are those who may end up experiencing swollen limbs (either legs or hands). This usually happens due to a condition known as lymphoedema, which is caused by accumulation of lymph in tissues.

The consequences of this rarely-talked-about problem can be dire. The swelling can significantly alter one’s physical appearance and even paralyze them psychologically and physically. Such is the story of Sharne Willoughby, a cervical cancer survivor who shared her experience with the debilitating problem in a recent interview.

“I was unable to work full time, moving was difficult. It was debilitating, both physically and emotionally. I felt uncomfortable around people” said Sharne Willoughby.

The 46 year old talked about her struggles with a problem that only seemed to get worse by the day. How she battled low self-esteem. How she struggled accomplishing daily tasks. And finally, how she triumphed amidst all odds – all thanks to liposuction surgery.

Effectiveness of Liposuction in Dealing with Lymphoedema 

Liposuction is an excisional procedure through which fatty tissue is removed from under the skin using a vacuum tube. In the case of lymphoedema, the fat tissue is not the only one removed but also the swollen lymph vessels that are embedded on it.

The decrease in the volume of fat cells can reduce the swelling because the lesser the size of fatty tissue there is, the lesser the fluid it retains.

It’s a delicate procedure that is only handled by trained surgeons (do your research and preferably choose a clinic with positive reviews). And while it is highly effective, the surgery should be limited to cases where the excess tissue is comprised of adipose tissue, which is often the case in the late stage of lymphoedema.

Scientific literature suggest that large amounts of excess tissue can be removed when liposuction is performed correctly. In addition, the incidence of bacterial infection can be reduced by up to 75%.
What You Should Know About Liposuction

Lipo is considered safe, effective and minimally invasive. It makes a very tiny incision to the skin through which the excess liquid is sucked out. And although that alone may not entirely eliminate the problem, it can control lymphoedema to manageable levels.

It’s An Outpatient Procedure

One good thing with lipo is that it is an outpatient procedure. You can be up and about in just a few hours after the surgery. To top it up, the results are apparent immediately after. Usually, the swelling reduces and normal movement is restored within days.

Side Effects

Bruising and scarring are the main side effects of liposuction. The incision, which is just about a quarter of an inch long can be painful in the first few days but it is gone in several weeks’ time. Also, one may need to wear a compression sleeve to prevent lymphoedema from coming back in the long term.

Cost

On the flip-side, though, the liposuction costs can be prohibitive. In addition to the procedure itself, you may need to pay various fees including medications, surgical garments and appropriate medical test fees. However, considering the great benefits it provides to cancer survivors, the cost is definitely worth paying.

Additional Tips for Dealing with Lymphoedema after Liposuction

Skin


Taking care of your skin is vital, because it reduces the risk of developing an infection such as cellulitis.

Exercises and movement


Lymphoedema can damage your limb muscles. It is therefore important to devise a movement and exercise plan to help strengthen the tissues involved in lymph drainage. Exercise may involve limb exercises alongside gentle activities that encourage whole body movement such as walking and swimming.

Massage

You can use self-massage techniques in addition to manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) which are usually carried out by a therapist. Specialized massage routines can play a huge role during the maintenance phase of recovery, to help avert long-term effects of lymphoedema.

Final Word

If left unattended, lymphoedema can significantly affect your day-to-day life and ruin your self-esteem. The condition can impair your physical movement and even cause a skin infection. Fortunately, like in the case of Sharne Willoughby, there is a scientific way to manage the problem – and that is through liposuction. That’s the kind of hope cancer survivors need to overcome all odds.

This is a guest blog entry.

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