Lymphoedema Service

The Surrey Downs lymphoedema service provides assessment, treatment and support to enable you to manage your lymphoedema.

Lymphoedema is a chronic (long term) swelling which occurs when lymph fluid can’t easily drain away due to a failure of the lymphatic system. It can affect any part of the body where drainage is affected but most commonly seen in an arm or leg.

The role of the lymphatic system

The lymphatic system is a one-way drainage system of vessels and lymph nodes that help drain fluid it also has an important role in supporting your body’s immune system.

How does lymphoedema occur?

Lymphoedema can occur following damage to the lymphatic system for example cancer treatment (lymph node removal/ radiotherapy), injury, infection, obesity or lack of limb movement, this is called secondary lymphoedema. Primary lymphoedema is a rare condition caused by faulty genes that affect the development of the lymphatic system, often present from early life.

Lymphoedema cannot be cured but can be successfully managed with a combination of self-care and support. At your assessment we will advise you on how to manage your condition, the focus of treatment is to:

  • Reduce and control the swelling which may include compression garments, compression bandaging or lymphatic drainage massage.
  • Reduce the risk of infection and improve the skin and tissue condition.
  • Increase movement and exercise to help drainage of lymph fluid and help you use the limb normally.

We will aim to discharge you back to the care of you GP for on-going lifelong management.

The lymphoedema service is based at Leatherhead Hospital, home visits available to housebound patients only.

Referral criteria: patients (over 18 years) registered with a Surrey Downs GP with primary or secondary lymphoedema or lipoedema. Further criteria are set out on the referral form [docx] 133KB .