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Private Lymphoedema Clinic

When you’re diagnosed with cancer, or a new condition, it’s a scary and unsettling time. For those of you that have developed lymphoedema after cancer treatment, when you thought it was all behind you, it can be extremely frustrating and upsetting. However, a lymphoedema diagnosis is the start to managing your condition.

Our hospital runs a private Lymphoedema Clinic on Mondays and Thusdays 9am- 5pm. NHS patients in Brent, Camden, Harrow, and Central West London can also get support from the Lymphoedema Service at St John’s Hospice.

Our lymphoedema services

  • Initial consultation
  • Follow up appointments
  • Routine lymphoedema check-up
  • Urgent lymphoedema check-up
  • Complex Decongestive Therapy (CDT) – combination of bandaging, exercises, Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)
  • Provision of compression garments
  • Kinesiotaping
  • MLD for a range of conditions, including:
    • Perimenopause fluid retention
    • Menopause fluid retention
    • Swelling as a result of trauma (torn ligaments, sprains, fractures, burns)
    • Pregnancy (swollen ankles, tired puffy eyes and swollen legs)
    • Swelling as a result of cancer
    • Swelling as a result of venous insufficiency (when your veins have trouble sending blood from your limbs back to the heart)
    • Chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, sinusitis, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma
    • Recovery from cosmetic surgery

What is lymphoedema?

The lymphatic system transports fluid to the lymph nodes, which filter toxins, waste, and other unwanted substances from your body. When the lymphatic system is damaged, it can stop working properly, meaning that fluid builds up in the affected limb and causes it to swell. Your body might also get inflammation in the affected area, resulting in scar tissue called fibrosis. This makes it even more difficult for your body to get rid of the excess fluid.

Why does lymphoedema happen?

One type of lymphoedema is hereditary, so some people might be born with it, or develop it later on in life.

The other type can develop after surgery, radiation, other trauma, high body weight, or if the skin, lymph nodes or vessels become infected. Women who have breast cancer treatment that involves removing lymph nodes, or radiation therapy, are at higher risk for lymphoedema. Other cancer-related surgeries, which involve removing lymph nodes, also put people at higher risk. These include gynaecological, head and neck, prostate or testicular, bladder and colon cancers and melanoma (a type of skin cancer).

What are the signs?

  • Swelling in any part of your body
  • Area feeling heavy and tired
  • Tight or hard-feeling skin or redness
  • Aching or other discomfort in the area
  • Less movement in the joint of the area
  • Trouble fitting into clothes even though you haven’t gained any weight

Sometimes lymphoedema can be triggered by a skin infection.
In this case, you might experience:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness of the skin
  • The skin feeling hot
  • Feeling feverish or generally unwell

Catching lymphoedema early, and getting treatment, can make a huge difference, as you can prevent infections, minimize symptoms, and avoid the swelling from getting any worse. If you experience any symptoms of lymphoedema or skin infection and are worried, get in touch with your doctor straight away.

How to reduce your risk

  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Use your prescribed compression garments
  • Avoid extreme temperatures, like hot tubs, saunas, sun beds, or ice baths
  • Prevent skin infections in the affected area by taking care of your skin when injured, moisturising every day and using an insect repellent in the summer
  • Try to avoid wearing tight clothes or jewellery
  • Tell your doctor about any changes in size, colour, temperature, feeling, or skin texture in the affected area straight away
  • Ask for a referral to our Lymphoedema Clinic
  • Exercise regularly. However, it’s important to know that some kinds of exercise can increase your risk of lymphoedema, so ask your doctor or therapist for advice!

Sign up to our free classes!

If you're an NHS patient in Brent, Camden, Harrow, and Central West London, come along to our free group classes for Lymphoedema Exercise and Self Lymphatic Drainage (SLD) at St John’s Hospice. These take place every Wednesday, and focus on arms one week and legs the next. You can book one class each week.

FAQs

When

Wednesday week 1 – Arms
Exercise class: 14:00 – 15:00
SLD class: 15:30 – 16:30

Wednesday week 2 – Legs
Exercise class: 14:00 – 15:00
SLD class: 15:30 – 16:30

How to book

Ring 0207 432 8274 or email HospiceLymphoedema@hje.org.uk and leave a message with your name, contact number and which class you are interested in. We will ring you back to confirm your booking.
Classes will run on a first come first served basis, so book your place as soon as possible!

What to expect from class

Each class will last around one hour. Our therapist will show you how to do the exercises, or sequence of SLD skin strokes, and then you’ll have the opportunity to have a go. All the exercises and skin strokes are aimed at promoting lymphatic drainage in the affected limb, with slow rhythmic, flowing movements in the direction of the healthy drainage pathways. These are not sweaty, high-energy classes and you should leave feeling calm and relaxed.

Useful things to remember

  • Remember your facemask!
  • Take a lateral flow test on the morning of your class and bring proof of a negative result with you.
  • No need to bring a towel as you won’t be working up a sweat.
  • We will keep a couple of windows open during class to keep fresh air circulating. Please bring layers in case you get cold.

What to do after class

When you get home, wash the affected limb, and lather on plenty of moisturiser, before putting on your lymphoedema garments. These will support the affected area and further promote lymphatic drainage. Take things easy and follow your therapist’s advice. We look forward to welcoming you to your class!

Patient information