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The recommended treatment for lymphoedema is Complex Lymphoedema Therapy (CLT).

CLT is sometimes also known as DLT - Degongestive Lymphatic Therapy, Complex Physical Therapy (CPT) or Complex Decongestive therapy (CDT).


Treatment for lymphoedema, although not a cure, helps control the symptoms of swelling, skin changes and functional impairment. Lymphoedema treatment is ongoing in order to maintain the gains in the affected area in the best possible way. Although it takes time and effort, lymphoedema treatment can be used to effectively control your lymphoedema and maintain a good quality of life.


Complex Lymphoedema Therapy (CLT)

There are four components to CLT:

  • specialised massage techniques – known as Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) – to stimulate the flow of fluid in the lymphatic system and reduce swelling. The massage techniques are designed to direct lymph fluid to functioning lymphatic territories and helps to establish collateral drainage pathways. Oedema Clinics are proud to be at the forefront of modern lymphoedema treatment with the inclusion of the the PhysioTouch in our MLD technique toolbox.
  • compression bandages and garments – to assist with the removal fluid out of the affected limb, minimise further build-up and maintain the volume of the affected limb. Compression bandaging is the gold standard to achieve a rapid reduction in the limb volume in the first stage of therapy. Occassionally some patients may need ongoing or episodic bandaging, this is dependent on the individual's requirements. Compression garments are a necessary component of lymphoedema management and it is important to ensure that the garments are prescribed by a trained therapist who will ensure that they are specific to the needs of each individual.
  • skin care – to keep the skin in good condition and reduce the chances of infection.
  • exercises – to use muscles in the affected limb to improve lymph drainage
  • education - vital to empower individual's to manage and maintain at home and in their everyday life. Empowering and active involvement lead to improved outcomes. Education includes individualised advice and instruction on how to do self-massage for the best effect.

Phases of Lymphoedema Treatment

Phase I - Intensive Lymphoedema Treatment

All the components of CLT are employed - Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD), including PhysioTouch massage to enhance lymph flow, preceding application of multi-layer compression bandaging or the prescription of an adjustable decongestive garment. Skin care to optimise the condition of the skin, reverse adverse changes and treat impairment or infections. Exercises to increase lymphatic and venous flow.

Psychosocial support and education is incorporated throughout intensive lymphoedema treatment to ensure that you understands your condition and all phases and components of the treatment.

A compression garment is prescribed following successful reduction, returning the limb to as normal a shape and size as possible. This is essential to preserve the reduction achieved by lymphoedema treatment and to help prevent progression of the lymphoedema.


At this stage your Oedema Clinic physiotherapist will ensure that you are empowered and well on your way to succeed throughout the next phase.


Phase II - Maintenance Lymphoedema Treatment & Self-Management

Knowledge and self-management become empowering tools to maintain the results achieved in Phase I. You still may need to see your Oedema Clinic physiotherapist on a regular basis for ongoing therapy and education to support your active involvement ensuring the successful outcomes of treatment are sustained.


The routine adopted will vary from person to person and generally includes daily skin care for the preservation of skin integrity and prevention of infection, regular self massage, exercises and the wearing of the prescribed compression garment/s. You will be encouraged and instructed on how to practice self monitoring and adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes attention to diet, fitness and weight management.

Ongong lymphoedema treatment is offered in a modified form to accommodate individual requirements.


PhysioTouch for Lymphoedema Treatment

The PhysioTouch is a device that uses negative pressure (suction), pulsation and mechanical vibration; three extremely beneficial techniques to enhance the body's lymphatic system to remove fluid from the lymphodematous limb, or area, and breakdown fibrosis. Oedema Clinics physiotherapists use PhysioTouch in conjunction with other manual techniques as part of MLD (Manual Lymphatic Drainage) often with remarkable results. Fibrosis softening and volume reduction differ in every person, as with other forms of lymphoedema treatment: results are individual.


The settings and application techniques can be customised to treat all individuals offering a gentle effective lymphoedema treatment that often cannot be achieved by using hands alone.