Lymphoedema

The Lymphoedema Service at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, provides specialist assessment and treatment for children and adults with lymphoedema of any cause, and women with lipoedema. We accept patients from any part of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The Lymphoedema Service is based in the Therapy Department, at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro. We are currently unable to offer this service elsewhere in Cornwall. The service is provided by experienced Occupational Therapists with specialist qualifications in lymphoedema management, with the support of a Lymphoedema Technician.

We will see patients with oedema that has been present for more than three months or is related to cancer and its treatment. This includes:

Primary lymphoedema

Due to the underdevelopment or failure of the lymphatic system. It may develop without any obvious cause at different stages in life, but particularly in adolescence and during the menopause.

Secondary lymphoedema

As the result of some problem outside of the lymphatic system that prevents it working properly such as cancer and treatment for cancer, surgery, injury or infection, reduced mobility / paralysis, obesity and problems with veins such as varicose veins.

Lipoedema

An adipose tissue disorder that is characterised by abnormal fat deposition of the lower limbs and tenderness.

For more information on lymphoedema, you may find this short video useful.

How we can help

Following assessment we are able to provide a range of treatments tailored to the individual patient, alongside self-management techniques. Our aim is to improve the lymphoedema and help patients to understand their condition and learn how to manage it themselves.

Treatments may include:

  • Skin care
  • Exercise
  • Weight management
  • Compression garments
  • Multi- layer lymphoedema bandaging – to improve the shape and size of severe swelling
  • Simple lymphatic drainage ‐ a skin moving technique similar to massage
  • Manual lymphatic drainage ‐ a more intense specialist massage technique
  • Kinesio Taping
  • Intermittent Pneumatic Compression therapy

What to expect at your first appointment

Your initial appointment will be between one and two hours. You will be seen by one of the Lymphoedema Specialists who will assess you and aim to give a diagnosis. You will be asked to undress so that the therapist can examine both the swollen and the adjoining area.

You may be asked to get onto a couch to enable the therapist to assess you. If you have difficulty getting in and out of a chair or bed, or need special equipment to help you, please let the clinic know before you come to your appointment.

If you think you would like someone else to be present, you are welcome to bring a friend, family member or carer or ask us to provide a chaperone for you.

At the end of your initial assessment we will agree a treatment plan. We’ll rarely start treatment at this initial appointment and you’ll need to return to the clinic for further appointments.

Directions to the Lymphoedema Unit

The Lymphoedema Unit is in the Therapy Department on the second floor of the Princess Alexandra Wing (Maternity) at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro. When you arrive at hospital, follow the signs to the Princess Alexandra Wing. The Therapy Department is on the second floor.

Find out more about coming to the Royal Cornwall Hospital

Referrals to the Lymphoedema Service

We accept referrals from any healthcare professional with the agreement of the patient’s GP. For further information please see the Referral and Discharge policy.

Further sources of information on Lymphoedema and Lipoedema

Patient Information Leaflets

Websites with information on lymphoedema

Websites with information on lipoedema