Lymphoedema – Combined Decongestive Therapy (CDT)

Is your swelling out of control?
Tired of not being able to live life to the full?
Come in and see one of our Lymphoedema Therapists
What is Lymphoedema?

Lymphedema is a long-term condition where excess fluid collects in tissues causing swelling (edema).


The lymphatic system is a part of the immune system and vital for immune function. Fluid called lymph circulates within the lymphatic system.


Normally lymph flows through lymph vessels, but if the lymphatic system is damaged or inadequate it cannot handle the usual amount of lymph, and fluid builds up in the tissues.


Lymphoedema develops when too much protein-rich fluid (lymph) accumulates in the tissues. When the lymphatic drainage system is damaged, usually due to surgery (including removal of lymph nodes)  or radiation treatment, it can’t transport the fluid out of the tissues and return it to the bloodstream. This causes swelling, which can become permanent if left untreated. It might also lead to skin infections and cellulitis (infection of the skin).


Lymphoedema can develop within months of treatment or years later. The onset is usually gradual.


Lymphoedema is a progressive, chronic condition that develops in stages:


Stage 0:  A stage where swelling isn’t obvious, even though the lymphatic system has been damaged.


Stage I:  In this early stage, lymph fluid accumulates in the tissues, causing swelling that goes down with elevation. There may be some “pitting” (an indentation that remains after pressure is applied to a small area).


Stage II:  Elevating the area doesn’t reduce the swelling and pitting is obvious.


Stage III : The tissue is hard and no longer pits. The overlying skin thickens, gradually becoming discoloured and increased fat deposits develop. At this stage the affected area is usually very swollen and the swelling is irreversible.


It’s important to know the early signs and symptoms of lymphoedema:

  • Swelling of the arm, hand, breast or leg
  • Infection
  • Aching, heaviness, stiffness on the affected side or limitation of movement
  • Tightness or temperature changes to areas of the body. Clothing may feel tighter than usual.
  • The swelling may be aggravated by heat, overuse and prolonged inactivity. It can be more obvious at the end of the day.



Lymphedema is incurable, but with the right treatment, it can be controlled.

What is Combined Decongestive Therapy (CDT)?

CDT has been shown to relieve Oedema fibrosis and the accompanying pain and discomfort of these conditions.


CDT is a combination of manual lymph drainage (MLD), compression bandaging, exercises and skin care. It may also involve breathing exercises, compressive garments and dietary measures.


  • Remedial exercises: these are light exercises aimed at encouraging movement of the lymph fluid out of the limb. Gentle muscle movement, including deep breathing, increases the flow of lymph fluid. This reduces the risk of fluid building up. Regular exercise, such as walking and swimming, can be very good. The actions of the muscles will help to move the fluid out of the swollen limb.


  • SkincareGood skincare reduces the risks of skin infections. Avoid sunburn – cover up and use 30+ sunscreen when outdoors . Keep your skin soft by gently moisturize daily with a non-perfumed cream or oil. Instead of soap try a body wash that won’t dry out your skin. Try to avoid insect bites, cuts and scratches – treat any of these with antiseptic ointment.


  • Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD)The lymphoedema therapist uses special massage techniques to move fluid into working lymph nodes, where they are drained.


  • Multilayer lymphedema bandaging (MLLB):   Wrapped over muscles surrounding lymph vessels and nodes to help the fluid move through the lymphatic system. Unlike the circulation of blood, there is no central pump (heart). The aim is to use bandages and compression garments to support the muscles and encourage them to move fluid out of the affected body part.   

Always wear your compression garment.

What our clients say

“Thank you for the treatments – they have given me immense relief.
It is hard to even recall now the heaviness that was in my arm a few weeks ago.”
Katrina Britton 


“After lymph node removal and radiation for melanoma I experienced discomfort and swelling in my left arm. I have had treatment with Catherine and have found great improvement. I have no hesitation in recommending Interactive Therapies as a professional, caring clinic. Their support and advice has been very worthwhile and knowledgeable.”
Gren Parry

Read more testimonials

We have been working with one of our clients using a protocol for lymphoedema that differs from the current CPT that is given within hospitals. This technique is Lymphatic Enhancement Technology, which utilizes electronic and manual stimulation for fluid acceleration.

Combining both the Lymphstar and manual stimulation techniques, Lymphatic Enhancement improves lymph fluid acceleration. The Lymphstar Pro has various fields of low vibration energy provided by radio frequency waves. It stimulates the lymphatic capillaries to increase fluid flow and breaks down protein-rich fluid in the tissue spaces.

For more information on Lymphoedema visit the Vodder web site: Vodder School

New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation:

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How much it will cost

$120 – One session

$560 – 5 prepaid sessions (Save $40)

Call now for free consultation: 09 302 0002 or Book Online