Treatment of lymphoedema has been slow to improve and change over the years. The basic modalities used have been compression garments, manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), and some surgical techniques.
Surgery seems fraught with problems especially considering how post-surgical scarring and interruption of lymphatic channels can cause this problem in the first place.
At Springdale we utilise two techniques that together frequently allow people to get out of compression garments for months at a time through improvement in lymphatic flow.
Both of these treatments have been tested at the Flinders University Hospital lymphoedema clinic by Dr Neil Pillar (a world authority on lymphoedema) and his team and proven to be highly successful.
Combining the two techniques, most commonly in a course of six sessions done usually two or three times a week over three or two weeks allows people to have a manageable problem for a number of months.
They can then return for a few more treatments to maintain further improvement.
The PR777 Gallium Arsenide Laser
This combination laser with a 633nm Helium Neon aiming beam, which allows it to be used for some PDT applications, and the higher powered 904nm Gallium Arsenide diode laser is utilised as a therapeutic laser. Composed of a scanning element which can distribute energy over quite a wide area if required as well as hand-held heads that can point-treat or treat over a small area in contact, various levels of tissue and areas can be effectively treated. It is capable of being used in a large number of applications.
Using the laser alone to treat lymphoedema can produce quite dramatic effects on its own. This includes those suffering from post-surgical problems such as mastectomy with axillary clearance procedures. Many people notice a lessening of swelling by the next day. This can persist for some days to weeks. If done as a series of about six treatments much longer benefits can be achieved.
If combined with the fluid drainage programmes of the Endermologie® Cellu M6 Integral machine the effects can be even more dramatic and last for longer.
People who have had to wear compression garments to control their problem have found they can go for long periods without them. However if they were going on a long flight or were in some other such relatively immobile situation, it would be best to wear the garment for the duration.
The effects are produced by increasing the rate of lymphatic flow through increasing the basal pulse rate of the lymphatic channels from three to six times.
As well as this, the Gallium Arsenide laser will soften and remodel scar tissue. Where there are scarred areas that interfere with lymphatic flow, these can be targeted to enhance the improvement in the lymphoedema.
Treatment is very comfortable. There is usually no sensation at all at the time. Sometimes there is a sensation of fizzing or fluid movement under the skin. Frequently people will notice an obvious change the next day.
Endermologie® With Cellu M6 Integral
With its leading edge technology, based on a unique treatment head that comes in a variety of sizes and shapes to manage different areas of the body, the basic action is from the motorised adjustable speed rollers.
The rollers can rotate in both directions, independently of each other, and at different speeds to produce a wide variety of actions. These come together to grasp the tissue, constantly adapting to its thickness, rolling and unrolling it, treating it in three dimensions.
The associated suction that lifts the tissue and improves circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid can be varied through a range of intensities and lengths of action varying from continuous to intermittent of varying lengths.
Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a gentle drawing or dragging massage method. And the endermologie technique is similarly very gentle.
In the experiments done at Flinders University a novice operator on an Endermologie unit achieved comparable results to a highly skilled MLD therapist. Although the results were similar, treatment times with the Keymodule were shorter, usually halved.