What is lymphedema?

About Lymph

Blood circulation is a very important system in the body, and blood is transported to all parts of the body through the circulatory system.
This circulatory system is composed of arterial and venous systems.
When the blood transports into the body tissues, it forms a by-product—lymph.
Lymph is a transparent, slightly yellowish fluid similar in composition to blood plasma.

About the Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is made up of a large network of lymphatic vessels, lymphatic organs, and lymphoid tissues. It drains lymph and empties it back into the bloodstream. Lymph flows in the lymphatic vessels and connects the lymphatic organs. Lymphatic organs include tonsils, thymus, spleen, and lymph nodes all over the body.


(Image Source: www.visiblebody.com)

Three functions of the lymphatic system:

  1. Lymph transportation - the destination of lymph is the venous system.
  2. Immunity acquisition - the lymphatic system is often the first place the invading bacteria and other pathogens can be detected. Lymph transports these bacteria and pathogens to the regional lymphatic organs such as lymph nodes and destroys them.
  3. Fat absorption - The small lymphatic vessels in the intestinal mucosa are responsible for the absorption of fats and fat-soluble substances (such as some vitamins) into the so-called chyle. These nutrients enter the blood through the lymphatic system.

IHEALSMART lymphedema
(Image Source: www.visiblebody.com)

What is lymphedema?

When the lymphatic system is damaged or congenital poorly developed, the lymphatic system will lose its function of transporting lymph.

As mentioned earlier, the destination of lymph is the venous system. If the lymph cannot be transported to the venous system, it accumulates in the subcutaneous tissue and resulted in lymphedema.

Watch the Founder of Hong Kong Lymphedema Association Dr. Lawrence Hin-Lun LIU interview:

(Sources: Hong Kong Lymphedema Association)

廖軒麟醫生 Dr. Lawrence Hin-Lun LIU

Dr. Lawrence Hin-Lun LIU

Founder of Hong Kong Lymphedema Association
Specialist in Plastic Surgery

Honorary Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, HKU
FHKAM (Surgery)

Leave a comment