Both Wendy Williams and Kathy Bates Suffer from Lymphedema.

This week’s Wendy Williams Show host, Wendy Williams discussed her struggles with lymphedema with guest, Kathy Bates who also has lymphedema. They both agreed that lymphedema is not given enough attention in medical education and in the medical community. We agree. Our medical speciality and society The American Vein & Lymphatic Society (AVLS) specializes in both vein and lymphatic disorders.

Lymphedema refers to swelling that generally occurs in one of your arms or legs. Sometimes both arms or both legs swell.  Lymphedema is most commonly caused by the removal of or damage to your lymph nodes as a part of cancer treatment. It results from a blockage in your lymphatic system, which is part of your immune system. The blockage prevents lymph fluid from draining well, and the fluid buildup leads to swelling. In our field, we also see phlebolymphedema, which is lymphedema secondary to chronic venous insufficiency. Venous hypertension can overload the lymphatic transport system, slowing fluid removal and causing subsequent lymphatic edema, in addition to venous edema. The result is swelling in the legs that is greater than venous edema.

n 2016, Kathy Bates was a speaker at our annual congress.   The American Vein & Lymphatic Society (AVLS) hosted what has become the largest and most comprehensive meeting dedicated to venous and lymphatic disorders in the U.S. Bates outspokenly discussed surviving and managing lymphedema after she had breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy.

Lymphedema is not cured, but can be managed. In our clinic, we may refer to one of our trusted lymphedema therapists for manual lymphatic drainage and prescribe compression therapy. We also offer lymphatic pump therapy in the office. It is also important to evaluate the deep and superficial venous system prior to initiating therapy.