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Lymphoedema

If the lymph nodes (also called lymph glands) in your groin have been removed during surgery, or if you have had radiotherapy to this part of your body, there is a risk of swelling of one or both legs.

The lymph glands normally help to remove lymph fluid from your legs. Removing them can block the flow of lymph so that it collects in the tissues under your skin. This can make your legs swell and is called lymphoedema. The condition can develop in a few months or several years after treatment.

Lymphoedema can be treated with massage techniques, bandaging and support stockings. Many hospitals have a nurse or physiotherapist who specialises in this treatment.

Tips:

  • Tell your treatment team if you have symptoms of lymphoedema.
  • Gently massage the swollen leg towards your heart to move the fluid out to other lymph channels.
  • Wear special bandages, stockings or a compression garment to help remove fluid.
  • Avoid infection by caring for your skin and nails.
  • Exercise the leg to help move fluid out of the area and into other lymph channels.
  • Avoid injections in your legs.
  • Keep the leg raised higher than the heart when you can.