The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust


Lymphoedema is the abnormal swelling, most commonly in patients arms and legs, caused by a build up in the lymphatic system of lymph fluid.

The lymphatic system is a network of blood vessels that form part of the immune system that cleanse the body's tissue's and drains away lymph fluid. If this fluid is not drained away correctly this can lead to the development of Lymphoedema.

Primary Lymphoedema: This form of lymphoedema develops when there are not enough lymphatic vessels, or the vessels do not drain the lymph fluid away effectively.

Secondary Lymphoedema: This form of lymphoedema is caused by direct damage to the lymphatic system. This can be a result of several factors such as surgery, radiotherapy, infection and reduced mobility.

Lymphoedema is a condition that cannot be cured but can be controlled.


  • Skin care; Prevention and when necessary treatment of cellulitis
  • Elevation and drainage of lymphatic vessels
  • Exercise

Treatment and improvement of this condition can only occur if the individual incorporates good leg care into their daily routine. This prevents further complications.