lymphedema head and neck

A lymphedema(swelling) of the face usually occurs as a consequence of cancer surgery involving the neck or face. Very often, lymph nodes are removed and treated by radiotherapy in the course of surgery for larynx, tongue or thyroid cancer.

In all cases, the lymphatic system’s ability to drain fluid is reduced as a result. Lymphedema occurs, appearing as a swelling in the cheek or below the jawbone (mandible). 

Lack of standard treatment

The same procedures are used the world over for treating secondary arm and leg lymphedema, and training in these methods is provided by a variety of institutions.

Yet the treatment of head lymphedema depends entirely on where the incisions took place during surgery, as well as on the number of lymph nodes removed and the frequency and intensity of radiotherapy. Additionally, a major factor determining the success of therapy is whether surgery or radiotherapy was performed on only one side or on both. 

Symptoms of facial edema

Patients often complain of difficulties in swallowing and speaking. Dryness of the mouth is another symptom, as the salivary glands have often been affected as well.

The associated psychological stress is considerable since, unlike the arm or leg, the face cannot be concealed. 

Treatment of head lymphedema

Dr. Vodder’s Manual Lymph Drainage has been successfully administered for many years at the Wittlinger Therapy Center in Walchsee/Tyrol.

Patients with edema of the head are not bandaged at our therapy center. Manual Lymphdrainage according to Dr. Vodder and the use of Kinesio tape has been found to be an excellent substitute for facial bandaging.