What is lymphedema and will I get it?

Lymphedema, a chronic swelling of the hand and/or arm, is caused by blockage in the lymph system to the arm. Lymphedema is unlikely following sentinel node dissection but more common after axillary node dissection. The blockage is usually due to scar tissue from surgery or the less effective drainage in the absence of the lymph nodes you had removed. It can also be caused by radiation to the area where your lymph nodes were removed. In addition to swelling, lymph system damage can result in limited mobility and vulnerability to infection or cellulitis. Pay attention to early warning signs. Call your doctor at the first signs of pain, discomfort or swelling. Don't leave these symptoms untreated - especially if you suspect an infection, which could quickly become serious.