There may be numerous complications you will experience with lymphedema. On this page I am going to list some of them. On our forums and other pages there will be additional information and links relating to each one in particular.
LIST OF COMPLICATIONS
1. Infections such as cellulitis, lymphangitis, erysipelas. This is due not only to the large accumulation of fluid, but it is well documented that lymphodemous limbs are localized immuno-deficient.
2. Draining wounds that leak lymphorrea which is very caustic to surrounding skin tissue and acts as a port of entry for infections.
3. Increased pain as a result of the compression of nerves usually caused by the development of fibrosis and increased build up of fluids.
4. Loss of Function due to the swelling and limb changes.
5. Depression – Psychological coping as a result of the disfigurement and debilitating effect of lymphedema.
6. Deep venous thrombosis again as a result of the pressure of the swelling and fibrosis against the vascular system. Also, can happen as a result of cellulitis, lymphangitis and infections.
7. Sepsis, Gangrene are possibilities as a result of the infections.
8. Possible amputation of the limb.
9. Pleural effusions may result if the lymphatics in the abdomen or chest are to overwhelmed to clear the lung cavity of fluids.
10. Skin complications such as splitting, plaques, susceptibility to fungus and bacterial infections.
11. Chronic localized inflammations.
12. Angiosarcoma, a cancer of the soft tissues
13. Lymphangiosarcoma which is a rapidly progressive, non curable cancer of long term lymphedema patients.
14. Lymphoma, new research indicates a possibility of this with hereditary lymphedema. I have been diagnosed with two forms of lymphoma.
15. Septic arthritis
LONG TERM EFFECTS
There are numerous side effects and long term affects you may experience with lymphedema. Some of these include fatigue, weight gain, pain (sometimes to the extreme), depression, continued swelling of the limbs or abdomen. Some have experienced cardio cavity and pleural edema. Lymphedema can also cause fibrosis. This is where the limb becomes very hard and can become nonresponsive to available treatment options. With extensive fibrosis also comes heightened risks of blood clots in the affected areas.
Lymphedema also cause localized immunodeficiency problems. It also may be suspect in long term immunity problems, especially in very long term primary lymphedema patients. This may be a controversial statement, but I have known of primary lymphedema patients who’s immune system seems to have collapsed from unknown reasons. In my personal situation, mine did just that with the result I acquired two different lymphomas. Hopefully, research will be done in this area.
Lymphangiosarcoma is another possible complication of lymphedema. While many LE’ers worry about contracting this, it is extremely rare. Risk factors are extreme fibrosis, radiation on fibrotic areas and continued infections.