Lymphedema affects children, men and women in different ways, and can cause excessive swelling, restricted movement, recurrent episodes of severe infection (erisypelas) and often results in a decreased quality of life.
Lymphedema can be classified as primary or secondary.
Primary lymphedema is caused by abnormal development of the lymphatic system. It can be present at birth or develop later in life and is sometimes familial. Most commonly however, lymphedema develops secondary to surgery (axillary or groin lymph node dissection) and/or to radiotherapy because of damage to normal lymphatics.
Lymphedema does not only affect limbs, but can also be detected at the face, the breast, the hip and the scrotum.