Wendy Williams and Kathy Bates Discuss Lymphedema

Today, on the Wendy Williams Show, host Wendy Williams and guest, Kathy Bates discussed their battles with lymphedema. Lymphedema refers to swelling that generally occurs in one of your arms or legs. Sometimes both arms or both legs swell.  The American Vein & Lymphatic Society (AVLS) hosts annually what has become the largest and most comprehensive meeting dedicated to venous and lymphatic disorders in the U.S. At the 2016 meeting, Academy Award-Winning actress Kathy Bates addressed the conference on the “Human Cost of Lymphedema.” The impassioned talk provided a patient perspective on surviving and managing lymphedema after Bates had breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy.

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.

Dr. Nisha Bunke and Dr. John Bergan have published studies on ‘phlebolymphedema’ which is lymphedema that is secondary to venous reflux disease. Significant varicose veins can cause lymphatic insufficiency in addition to venous edema.

While there is presently no cure for lymphedema, it can be managed with early diagnosis and diligent care of your affected limb. Phlebolymphedema on the other hand can be improved with treatment of underlying venous insufficiency.  Treatments for lymphedema, regardless the cause, include manual lymphatic drainage, regular use of compression stockings and a lymphatic pump.

In our office, we can assist with the diagnosis of lymphedema, offer lymphatic pump treatments and refer out for Manual lympahtic drainage to our experienced network of lymphatic therapists. If your evaluation reveals there is a vein component of the leg lymphedema, then treatment of the underlying superficial venous reflux may be beneficial.

La Jolla Vein Care’s Dr. Bunke was also involved the Consensus Guidelines for lymphedema, ‘Diagnosis and Treatment of Primary Lymphedema Consensus Document of the International Union of Phlebology (IUP)-2013.