Increased risk of Lymphoedema?

I’m booked in to spend an evening with a friend at a fab spa on Friday evening and am really looking forward to it. On booking, they asked if I’d had any health problems, including cancer. I explained that I’d had breast surgery two years ago and had lymph nodes removed.

She’s sent me a disclaimer form that says… “there may be a risk of developing lymphoedema when lymph circulation is stimulated through heat in the thermal rooms or if the area with lymph node damage or removal is subjected to pressure jets in the hydrotherapy pool”. I did visit a different spa last year and this was never mentioned.

Has anyone heard about this? I googled lymphoedema and read about the causes on the Macmillan website… no reference to this… I suspect that they’re just covering their backs… if I sign the disclaimer (which I will) I basically “take full responsibility for any resulting health condition”… i.e. I won’t sue them!!

Thankfully I haven’t suffered from lymphoedema… and long may that continue. I had a lumpectomy in May '07, followed by nearly 6 months of chemo and 6 weeks of radiotherapy. I did have a recurrence of cording 18 months post surgery, which lasted for about 2-3 months, but that was about 6 months ago. I’m reasonably careful re lifting heavy things on that side, but don’t go overboard…

Any comments are welcome…


Hi Ali,

The Healthy Steps/Lebed organisation lists avoiding saunas and hot tubs on their lymphoedema prevention list. Having said that, I still use them at the spa - I just do the exercises first! Seriously, I don’t stay in too long and often dangle my affected arm out of the tub. I’m sure they are just covering themselves.

Eliza xx

Hi I was told to avoid sauna’s and stuff as they could lead to lympoedema.
However, as the risk of lympoedaema is present for life and noone really knows whole get it or when, think I’ll go along your line its my risk to take. Know its a horrible side effect but sometimes you need to do stuff you like as long as you dont go to mad.


The written advice I have says to avoid hot spas/saunas because it can encourage increased blood flow on the surface of your arm (and on the rest of you), resulting in more fluid in the tissues and more work for the lymphatic system, which may exacerbate or precipitate lymphoedema.

Hot tubs…if you really want to use them, the advice I have is just what Eliza does, keep affected or ‘at-risk’ arm out of the water.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that the average interval between treatment and developing lymphoedema is 3.5 years.

I think that as glenna implies, it’s now an informed decision, meaning that you understand there is a risk involved and are prepared (or not) to accept it.



I spoke to an ex-lymphoedema nurse yesterday, who said that the awareness and treatment of this condition in the UK is quite poor… and that appears obvious given how little how I and others know about it (She trained overseas). I asked her about my predicament and she basically said avoid it, but if I did go, limit it to a maximum of 2 minutes!!

It’s evidently a fab spa… but what I think I’ll do is go, avoid the really hot ones, maybe stick to the pool and cooler more open ones, keep my right arm out and try and be sensible!

Interesting to know about the statistic relating to 3.5 years… I’m only 18 months past end of treatment (2yrs 2mths post surgery). I knew it could occur at any time, but thought it was more likely immediately after surgery.

Thanks for your comments.

Ali x

Hi, this thread is interesting, i suppose because like the rest of you i see the words Lymphoedema, and instantly radar hones in, because the info out there is so sparse. the 3.5 year stat. is v interesting. I also assumed it was more likely to occur immediately post surgery/treatment. I wonder if it could be because as time goes by and you don’t get problems, you maybe let down your guard!! just a thought. i am going to store this thread in my ‘saved discussions’ so if anyone comes accross any other info please keep posting , as will I if a find out anymore info.



Hi all

Yes, I’ve often wondered if the “3.5” years is the sort of interval after which, as Rhian says, you start to let your guard down. Then again, it could be just be the average amount of time for a typical comprised lymphatic system to start to fail. Eventually the load becomes too much.

I have also read of research among 20 year survivors that found a 49% incidence of lymphoedema, which does suggest that we are all likely to end up with some kind of a problem if we live long enough.

Have to agree with the ex-lymphoedema nurse who spoke to Ali; awareness is poor in the UK (and many other countries to, to be fair) with treatment hard to get and very basic compared to what could be offered.

Hope you have a great time at the spa, Ali!



I went to the spa last Friday evening and had a lovely time, ta… :slight_smile: I only went into the sauna-type ones for a couple of minutes and generally stuck to the cooler temperature ones. Very relaxing - just a shame that it’s the opposite end of the country (I was visiting a friend). I went to OneSpa in Edinburgh last year, the morning after doing the Moonwalk … what a fab idea that was - I thoroughly recommend it to ease the aching muscles. But on that occasion, I was completely oblivious to the increased risk of lymphoedema, so went into everywhere for as long as I fancied, with no ill effect…yet!

Ho, hum… this bc does keep coming back to haunt us, eh?!

On the point of very hot water - I occasionally have a long soak in a hot bath… is that a no-no too?!!


Hi Ali

Glad to hear you had a great time with no ill effects.

It’s all about making an informed decision, isn’t? Now you know there is a risk (and it is a risk, not a certainty) in using hot tubs, saunas, etc, you can make your own choices.

And yes, a soak in a hot bath is tricky for the same reasons, too.

Showers are better,; not only do you not get overheated, the pressure of the water is supposed to have some benefits for lymph flow…