I am a Breast Cancer
survivor, who had 21 lymph nodes removed in my cancer surgery. I wear a chip pad and compression vest, get manual lymph drainage every single day, and have lost weight to help the lymphedema.
This is the internet message I found that launched me on a search for a suitable LED red light to help my lymphedema. More on that light, and it's use and benefits below the research below:
Several years ago, a report on the use of red light therapy in the treatment of post-mastectomy secondary lymphodema was published in the journal Lymphology, and the results were promising. Women treated with red light therapy once or twice a week for 10 weeks showed measurably less arm swelling, edema volume, and tissue pressure, and marked improvement in subjective complaints, including “aches/pains, tightness, heaviness, cramps, pins/needles, and mobility of the arm,” with even greater improvement in the hand and forearm.
The women in the study also showed gradual softening of the skin and tissues, as well as improved skin integrity. Over a three-year period, some of the improvement in their symptoms gradually decreased, but their arm swelling, pressure, and hardness all continued to show improvement.
In a more recent, double-blind, placebo-controlled Australian study published in Cancer, 61 women with post-mastectomy lymphodema received 16 red light treatments twice a week for six weeks, then once a week for four weeks, for approximately 10 minutes each session. At the end of the 10 weeks, 31 percent of the women enjoyed a measurable decrease in swelling, volume of edema, and hardening of the upper arm. Plus, they enjoyed these benefits for an amazing six months after the red light treatments were discontinued.
Red light has also been shown to help activate the local immune system by stimulating the specific types of white blood cells that kill, consume, and/or carry away pathogens. This creates a more sanitary cellular environment, thereby reducing the risk of skin infections—a significant problem for women with lymphodema.
Finally, red light is reported to enhance the activity of phagocytes, cells that are thought to help reduce tissue swelling by breaking down protein-based debris in the damaged area, including excess scar tissue. The overall effect in the treatment of secondary lymphodema appears to be the creation of a healthier tissue environment, with faster regeneration of damaged vessels and enhanced circulation.
The red light I found is the Pretika Lightsonic, sold at Drugstore.com and Amazon.com for $40. It is extremely important to use only red light, not mixed with blue light, as blue light creates heat and it is not suitable for lymphedema treatment. The wavelength of the LED light is 660 nanometers. It is sold primarily for cosmetic use, although there are red light therapy vendors that mention it's use for pain and swelling.
Here are my results: pain goes away immediately. Fibrosis (clumping of lymph into knotty areas) is greatly reduced, and it seems to be creating new lymph pathways. It does not regenerate lymph nodes, nothing does that, but I am so happy to be able to get rid of pain and reduce swelling.
My treatment with the light is one to two minutes per treated area. I bought two of the lights so it takes me half as long to shine the light, two minutes per section, on my arm and under my arm, where they took my lymph nodes out. I let it rest for a day, and treat 3 times per week. The next day, the clumpy parts are greatly reduced or gone altogether. Pain is helped immediately.
I am glad to say that my lymphedema is not progressing at all.
I also use DMSO cream with aloe and rose scent. That also takes away pain and inflammation. But you have to be careful with DMSO, as it is a penetrant and will carry any foreign substances deep into your tissues. So wash your skin and hands carefully before applying.