Athens Regional Health System

Lymphedema Prevention

The best way to prevent lymphedema is to avoid the triggers. Good diet, exercise and skin care also decrease your chances of developing lymphedema.

  • Don't ignore swelling in the arm, hand, fingers, chest wall, toes, foot, ankle, leg, abdomen, or genital area. Consult your physician.
  • Avoid injections, blood withdrawal, or blood pressure checks in the affected extremity.
  • Avoid vigorous, repetitive movements against resistance with the affected arm or leg (scrubbing, pushing, puling, etc.).
  • Avoid heavy lifting with the affected arm. This includes heavy handbags with over-the-shoulder straps.
  • Do not wear constrictive jewelry or any other clothing with tight elastic around any extremity. Always wear closed toe shoes.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes when bathing and washing dishes.
  • Use an electric razor for shaving legs and underarms.
  • Don't overtire your arm or leg. If it starts to ache, lie down and elevate it.
  • When traveling by air, wear a compression stocking. (See your doctor or lymphedema therapist for the appropriate kind/size.)
  • See your physician for any rash, blistering, redness, increase of temperature or fever.
  • Maintain a well-balanced diet. Lymphedema is a high protein edema, but eating too little protein will not reduce your lymphedema risk.
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