What is Lymphoedema?

There are two types of Lymphoedema. Primary Lymphoedema can be inherited and occurs due to the under development of lymphatic vessels. Lymphoedema may be evident at birth or may develop later in life. It can also develop when there is no known cause.

Secondary Lymphoedema often occurs as a consequence of cancer or the effects of treatment, because cancer treatment can damage the lymphatic system. It can also develop as a result of trauma (accidents), infection (cellulitis) or in cases of reduced movement (muscle weakness, stroke, Multiple sclerosis, gravitational oedema, morbid obesity) or when venous return is reduced, (DVT, vein harvesting).

Aims of Lymphoedema treatment

  • To prevent Lymphorrhoea (leaking lymph fluid)
  • To educate and support patients to self care
  • To promote quality of life
  • To improve limb function/ mobility
  • To reduce swelling  and correct shape distortion of the limb
  • To prevent infection (cellulitis) and hospital admission

Treatment is based on best practice standards, organised at the discretion of the Lymphoedema practitioner and in partnership with the patient. Treatment may include:

  • Care of the skin
  • Exercise
  • Compression garments
  • Lymphoedema bandaging
  • Kinesio taping
  • Simple and manual lymphatic drainage

All patients with primary and secondary Lymphoedema regardless of cause can be referred if the GP practices within the following catchment areas: Kensington & Chelsea; Hammersmith & Fulham; Westminster; Brent and Camden.

Patients with Lymphoedema secondary to cancer treatment with a GP in Richmond & Twickenham can also be referred. Patients are usually seen within 4 – 6 weeks. Urgent referral, patients with Lymphorrhoea (leaking lymph fluid), are prioritised.

Please fax referrals for both treatment centres to clccg.stjohnsreferrals@nhs.net The team are available Monday – Friday, 9am – 4pm. For any questions or queries, please feel free to contact us.

Location of Clinic(s):

Clinic 8, 1st Floor  

Charing Cross Hospital
Fulham Palace Road
Telephone 0203 311 5038


Useful links

Both organisations have guidelines on the treatment of cellulitis in Lymphoedema on their websites.