Lymphedema Treatments

The gold standard for the treatment of lymphedema is undergoing Complex Decongestive Therapy (CDT).  There are two phases of CDT, the first being the decongestion phase (Phase I), which aims to reduce the fluid in the affected area and to improve the condition of the skin.  The second phase is the maintenance phase (Phase II), which aims to help the patient learn to control and manage their lymphedema.

Phase 1 Decongestion, Phase 2 Maintenance

Lymphatic Wounds

The two phases of Complex Decongestive Therapy (CDT) are:

Phase I – Decongestion

The first step of CDT is to reduce the swelling as much as possible and improve your limb shape and skin condition. This phase usually lasts about 2-4 weeks.  

The elements of Phase I are:

  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)
  • Compression Therapy with multi layer compression bandaging
  • Skin Care for Lymphedema
  • Exercise with Lymphedema

Phase II – Maintenance

The second phase of treatment aims to maintain and maximize the results achieved in the decongestive phase.   The ultimate goal is having the patient be able to control their  lymphedema.

It is pivotal that the patient continues their own self management of their lymphedema immediately after the completion of Phase I.   Any delays can result in more swelling again. 

Due to the chronic nature of lymphedema, it can also be necessary to go back to Phase I again. 

Self-management is an integral part of Phase II, which means both a complete  understanding of your lymphedema and best ways to manage it.   

The elements of Phase II are

  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)
  • Compression Therapy for Lymphedema
  • Skin Care for Lymphedema
  • Exercise with Lymphedema

Central Coast lymphedema and Wound care have specially trained therapists in all aspects of CDT.  In addition, we utilize pneumatic compression pumps, hivamat therapy, and lymphatouch as additional tools to help reduce swelling and pain.  



Photo of the Hivamat device

Hivamat is a device used by our therapist that utilizes an intermittent electrostatic field to create what is known as Deep Oscillation. These electrostatic waves create a kneading effect deep within the damaged tissues that helps alleviate pain and reduce swelling.  The pleasant oscillations have a gentle and deep-acting effect on all tissue components (skin, connective tissue, muscles, blood and lymph vessels).


LymphaTouch® negative pressure treatment can be applied to several treatment areas, including lymphedema, preoperative and postoperative swelling and scarring, fascial tightness, muscle maintenance,  pain management and improving joint functionality.


The device is designed to support lymphatic drainage. The negative pressure generated by the device helps improve lymphatic circulation in the treated area.


Photo of Lymphatouch

Pneumatic Compression Pumps

Lady sitting in a recliner with leg pumps attached

Pneumatic compression pumps are used as adjunct therapy for lymphedema to help with decongestion.  The compression pump is an electronic pump that fills sleeves, gloves, or boots with air fitted to the affected part of your body. The device applies a certain amount of pressure over a certain time to transport the lymphatic fluid to the center of your body and reduce the swelling of the affected body parts. Compression pumps are used in the clinic when Manual lymphatic drainage is not sufficient enough for decongestion.   In some cases, your health insurance covers these devices for home use.