Lymphedema Diagnosis and Treatment

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There are many potential causes for swollen ankles. Serious medical issues must be ruled out before treatment can begin.

Mark A. Edelman MD, DABVLM, a venous insufficiency expert with Center for Vein Restoration (CVR), recommends that a primary care physician exclude heart, lung, kidney, and liver issues as the possible causes of lower extremity swelling before having a detailed consultation at CVR. As the nation’s leader in vein care, CVR evaluates for superficial venous insufficiency, which is the most common cause of lymphedema (swelling that most often occurs in the arms or legs) in the United States, according to Dr. Edelman.

What is Venous Insufficiency?

When working correctly, tiny one-way valves in the leg veins keep blood flowing toward your heart. If these valves aren’t functioning normally, blood can flow backward, causing the blood to collect (pool) in the legs. If left untreated, those with chronic venous insufficiency (that is, persistently recurrent backward blood flow back down to the legs) can experience:

How is Venous Insufficiency Diagnosed and Treated?

Dr. Edelman explains that at CVR, a dedicated ultrasound is used to confirm the diagnosis. An ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of leg veins that can be seen on a computer screen. It is a non-invasive procedure, and patients can go back to normal activity immediately.

If venous insufficiency is confirmed, treatment of this disorder often leads to a marked improvement in the leg swelling, says Dr. Edelman. At our consult, he explains, “we also review the medications you are taking, as some of these can have side effects of ankle and leg swelling.”

What if Venous Insufficiency is Not Diagnosed?

If none of the above reasons swelling occurs are present, lymphedema is diagnosed. According to Dr. Edelman, this can often be treated with conservative measures such as weight loss, increased walking, and leg elevation. Customized compression garments are very effective in helping to squeeze the fluid out of the legs. At your consultation, we can measure you for these types of garments and offer purchase of these at wholesale prices.

Dr. Edelman adds that, in cases of swelling that do not respond to these measures, CVR can refer you for a pneumatic compression pump and lymphedema therapy at the time of the consultation. These treatments serve as a mechanical mechanism that gently “milks” the fluid from your lower extremities and back into the vascular system, where the fluid can be absorbed and processed naturally. If these treatments are appropriate for you, CVR will manage the referral and help you obtain insurance coverage.

Schedule Your Consultation Today

Having swollen legs is not normal and should not be tolerated. Center for Vein Restoration is here to help you look and feel your best—safely and affordably. Call 240-965-3915 or visit our website today to schedule your consultation. Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover your care at CVR.

Author: Mark Edelman, MD, DABVLM

Mark Edelman, MD brings extensive experience as an in-clinic specialist in venous insufficiency, and in the minimally invasive treatment of varicose veins. He is Board Certified by the American Board of Radiology, with an added qualification in vascular/interventional radiology.

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