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Lymphoedema Service

Lymphoedema is an abnormal swelling, usually of a limb, which does not go down with elevation and does not respond to diuretics. Lymphoedema may also occur in the trunk, head, neck, breast or genitals. If routine investigations do not find a cause for the swelling, a referral to the Lymphoedema Clinic may be appropriate.

We accept patients requiring diagnosis, treatment and management of primary or secondary lymphoedema. We also diagnose and treat patients with lipoedema, an adipose tissue disorder, primarily seen in women and frequently under-diagnosed.

We are situated in an independent clinic at the north end of Ipswich Hospital, accessed via Entrance 15. View hospital map.

Referral sources
Referrals are accepted from any health care professional. We can give advice if a patient is already being treated for swelling by another service, for example, community nurses.

Referral route
Referrals are accepted via the lymphoedema referral form (see link below). Please give as much information as possible. When completed, this should be emailed to ihn-tr.Lymphoedemaitrust@nhs.net. If you wish to discuss a referral, please call 01473 704033.

Appropriate patients

  • Swelling secondary to surgery, cancer, repeated cellulitis, vascular disease and injury.
  • Primary lymphoedema – from birth, puberty or sometimes develops around pregnancy or menopause (please ask for advice if a child presents with lymphoedema).
  • Lipoedema – women with lower body size out of proportion with the upper body. Typically a small waist, feet unaffected by swelling with a ‘bracelet affect’ at the ankles, tender or painful legs, pale, cool skin which bruises easily, varicose veins and knee pain. A learning module for CPD is produced by the Royal College of GPs in association with Lipoedema UK: Lipoedema - An Adipose Tissue Disorder

Exclusion criteria

  • Arterial disease with ABPI of less than 0.8.
  • Current DVT.
  • Active cellulitis.
  • Wounds, macerated skin and wet legs. Encourage meticulous daily skin care and refer once healing has occurred.
  • Active cancer can be managed with a modified approach.
  • Patients with obesity related lymphoedema will be managed according to the British Lymphology Society Guidelines for that condition.

After assessment the patient will be given an explanation of the likely cause of their swelling. They will be managed according to the severity of that swelling and discharged with a clear plan for self-management of this chronic, lifelong condition with the support of the Lymphoedema Clinic.

Further information on treatments can be found in our leaflet (below) and at www.lymphoedema.org and www.thebls.com.

Related documents and links to further information