It can be defined as the accumulation of protein-rich fluid as a result of impaired lymphatic circulation due to congenital or subsequent causes. For example, it is one of the most distressing complications that occurs as a result of removal of the axillary lymph nodes after breast cancer surgery. As a result of the obstruction of lymph flow in the armpit, it causes swelling, discomfort and pain in the arm.


The incidence of lymphedema after breast surgery is approximately 25%. Lymphedema can develop in any type of cancer, after surgery or radiotherapy (radiation therapy). However, it develops especially after breast, prostate and lower abdominal region cancers. The greater the surgery, the greater the number of lymph nodes removed from the armpit, and the greater the risk of lymphedema if radiotherapy was applied after surgery. Minor injuries such as blow to the arm, graze-cut, insect bite and infection can cause lymphedema.


* Slight swelling may occur immediately after surgery. The swelling heals quickly.
* The type that develops 6-8 weeks after surgery-radiotherapy heals more slowly.
* The most common is the type that develops slowly over months or years.
Surgical removal of lymph nodes increases the risk. The point to remember is; Even if treatment is planned with a biopsy of the armpit gland (sentinel node biopsy), there is a risk of swelling. Swelling may occur or the swelling may increase during radiotherapy.


Sensation of tightness or fullness in the arm, pain, heaviness, tingling, swelling and redness, difficulty in movement in the arm, hand and wrist, squeezing of the watch, ring or bracelet, feeling of tightness in the skin, related distress and restlessness.
When it swells slowly, it may not be noticed by the patient, patient relatives or doctor unless the measurement is taken. When it is noticed visually, the diameter difference may have reached the level that needs to be treated.



In the pre-operative period, they should be seen by the physical therapy doctor and should be educated about what to do. If this is not possible, it should be followed up after the operation.
– Do not neglect any swelling, immediately consult your physical therapy doctor.
– You can easily use your arm for normal work.
– Keep your arm clean, skin care.
– Apply moisturizer to the skin after bathing and during the day. Moisturizer should not contain alcohol, perfume, mineral oil, talc, lanolin.
– Do not get a manicure. Push cuticles back instead of cutting them.
– Scratch the risky arm slowly with the palm of the hand, not the fingernail.
– Do not press too hard when drying your arm.
– Try to be protected from all kinds of pressure and pressure (such as blood pressure measurement, scrubbing, scratching, hitting, inappropriate massage)
– Avoid repetitive movements such as rubbing, pulling, pushing with the risky arm.
– If there is a scrape, scratch or insect bite on the skin, wash it with soap and keep it clean and protect it. Use anti-bacterial cream. If there is an open wound, clean and close it. After cold application on mild burns, wash with soap and water and protect.
– In terms of infection, be alert for symptoms such as redness, swelling, warmth, sensitivity and fever, call your doctor immediately.
– When removing armpit and leg hair, use an electric razor (not depilatory cream, wax or razor).
– Protect your arm from sunburn. Use sunscreen creams and avoid prolonged exposure to the sun.
– Make sure that the creams you use are not cosmetic. Inappropriate substances in it can cause allergies and wound formation.
– Be careful where there is a risk of insect bites, bee bites or cat scratching. If bite occurs, clean skin, lift arm, apply cold and contact your doctor.
– Avoid things that will irritate the skin.
– Always use protective gloves when handling pots and pans that come out of the oven. Beware of boiling water and the steam of food coming out of the microwave oven.
– Before entering the bathroom, check the temperature of the running water with your other arm, do not use very hot water.
– Do not scrub or lint in the bathroom.
– Avoid very hot environments such as saunas, spas or going out in extreme heat in summer.
– Try to stay away from all kinds of heat!!
– Use gloves while doing house and garden chores.
– Wear protective rings on your fingers while sewing.
– Do not get vaccinated from the risky arm, do not have blood pressure measured, do not have blood taken.
– Avoid wearing tight clothing, gloves and jewellery.
– Avoid carrying bags and files with risky arm.
– Use wide-strapped underwear that does not put pressure on the shoulder, and a lightweight prosthesis.
– Do not hold your arm in a certain position for a long time. Movements such as holding the arm in a sling cause restriction and swelling in your arm.
– Use a pressure cuff when traveling.
– Make sure that the elastics of the clothes you use are not tight


Contact your doctor immediately, even if you have had this experience before, it would be appropriate to be evaluated by your physical therapy doctor.


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