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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Jordan Creek)

180 Jordan Creek Parkway, Suite 120
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Waukee)

950 E. Hickman Road
Waukee, Iowa 50263

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Urgent Care - Altoona

2720 8th St. SW
Altoona, Iowa 50009

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Urgent Care - Ankeny

3625 N. Ankeny Blvd.
Suite E
Ankeny, Iowa 50023

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Urgent Care - Ingersoll

2103 Ingersoll Ave., Ste. 2
Des Moines, Iowa 50312

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Urgent Care - Lakeview

6000 University Avenue
Suite 101
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266

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Urgent Care - Merle Hay

4020 Merle Hay Road
Suite 100
Des Moines, Iowa 50310

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Urgent Care - Southglen

6520 SE 14th St.
Des Moines, Iowa 50320

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Urgent Care - Urbandale

5200 NW 100th Street
Urbandale, Iowa 50322

UnityPoint Health - John Stoddard Cancer Center

Lymphedema Clinic


Lymphedema is an abnormal accumulation of protein-rich fluid (lymph) that causes swelling of a body part, most frequently in an arm or leg. There are two basic classifications of lymphedema.

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Primary Lymphedema

Primary lymphedema is due to a malformation in the lymphatic system. Primary lymphedema may not become clinically apparent until there is an incident that overloads the deficient lymphatic system. It has a greater occurrence in women than men and presents itself predominately in the legs.

Secondary Lymphedema

Secondary lymphedema may occur as the result of a disease process or tissue insult, such as surgery, radiation, lymph node removal, or trauma. Damage to, or destruction of, the lymphatic vessels or lymph nodes increase the likelihood of developing lymphedema. Secondary lymphedema may occur immediately after the original insult or years later. It is often triggered by infection or injury.

Prevention of lymphedema requires individuals at risk to take special precautions and to be able to detect its onset. Lymphedema has no cure, but can be successfully managed through therapeutic intervention.

Lymphedema Treatment

Lymphedema is best treated with Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), a comprehensive treatment program that includes:

  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)

  • Compression bandaging and/or garments

  • Lymphedema exercises

  • Meticulous skin and nail care

  • Education and prevention for self management

The goals of CDT are:

  • Consistent reduction of swelling and fibrous tissue

  • Prevention of lymph fluid reaccumulation

  • Improved movement and function

  • Prevention and elimination of infections

  • Self-esteem enhancement

A preventative treatment program is also provided for post-surgical patients who have had lymph nodes removed. These individuals are at risk for lymphedema. This program includes:

  • Soft tissue mobilization

  • Range of motion and stretching exercises

  • Strengthening exercises

  • Postural training

  • Education and prevention

For more information, view our Axillary Lymph Node Surgery Education booklet that discusses cancer resources, post-surgical issues, recovery recommendations, lymphedema education, and breast cancer post-surgery resources.