A case of lower extremity lymphedema secondary to morbid obesity – Patient Update

By: Lindsay Davey, MScPT, MSc, CDT
July 15, 2013
Editors: Ryan Davey, PhD and Lindsay Davey, MScPT, MSc, CDT

In January we discussed one patient’s experience with lymphedema secondary to obesity (see:  “A case of Lower Extremity Lymphedema Secondary to Morbid Obesity”).   Here we provide an update on her progress one year after her initial assessment at our clinic.

The patient was first seen at our clinic on May 29th, 2012.  She is a 55 year-old morbidly obese patient (with a BMI >35 kg/m2).  She was assessed for bilateral swelling in her lower limbs, specifically below the knees, and in her feet and ankles.  The patient responded well to treatment, and made significant gains.

It has now been one year since her first visit to our clinic, and she has kindly provided us with an update on her lymphedema as well as her amazing progress on improving her overall health and well being.  She has lost 50 lbs, and now measures 10 inches circumference at her ankles, 14 inches at the mid-way point of her lower leg, and 18 inches at the widest part of her calf.

Here’s her update on May 16th, 2013:

“I have had a long year.  I began my Lymphedema ordeal lost and panicked. With my team in place: Toronto Physiotherapy’s Lindsay, my Vascular surgeon and my family doctor, I was able to get my legs back – and thinner than when I began.  It was not easy.

My regimen now: I see Lindsay now 2-3 times a month for MLD (manual lymphatic drainage).  I wear compression stockings and Farrow Wraps that help control the Lymphedema flow (8-10 hrs. a day).  I also do self-massage every day.  In my case, I am disabled so walking is difficult and laboured.  It is recommended and I do try.

Every day life had to change.  I have to eat “clean”.  Most of the food I eat now is organic or prepared at home.  I got a list from Lindsay of approved personal and home cleaning products that have little or no chemicals as well.  My family and friends now follow my example and we are healthier for it.  It becomes a way of life.  I keep my legs clean and moisturized.  I now have no ulcers and the skin is pink.

There is hope.  This disease is manageable even if you are a large person.  I was advised to keep my feet clean and manicured as well.  For those who cannot do this, like myself, I would advise you get a medical pedicure from a podiatrist.”

May 15th, 2013.  Patient’s lower legs after removing wraps.

May 15th, 2013. Patient’s lower legs after removing wraps.

With great determination and diligence this patient has made fantastic improvements to her health and well being.  I hope she can be an inspiration to others who struggle with obesity and obesity-related lymphedema.  :)

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