What is risky to arm with removed lymph glands?


I know after having 9 glands removed that I am at risk of lymphoema, and that I must avoid blood pressure and needles in that arm. I am also aware of cut, burns etc.

What I am not sure about is -

  1. is it risky to fly?
  2. is it ok to sleep on that side/arm?
  3. can I lift much with that arm? (have 2 young kids to pick up)

Thanks in advance


Hi Lolly,

I had all my lymph glands removed in 2006 and have flown twice since. I did actually use a sleeve once which i requested from the b.c. nurse, purely as a preventative measure, but i think they recommend this on a long flight anyway. I also wear flight socks since i had my glands out with my mastectomy. I was advised not to carry anything or lift anything too heavy. Consequently, i now get out of doing the hoovering, hey, there has to be some perks!! Husband also brings heavy items from the supermarket for me.
I also sleep on either side, but never my stomach anymore since the op.
Hope this helps.
Rosy x

Hi Lolly,

I have put for you below the link to BCC’s publication regarding Lymphodema which you may find useful to read.


Kind regards,
Jo, Facilitator

Hi Lolly

I’m still quite new to all this so my knowlege isnt great. After 9 nodes removed I got lymphoedema at the end of radiotherapy last summer.

I think we have to take all those precautions like taking care with arm when flying, avoid heavy lifting, bp monitor, injections/blood tests, sunburn etc to try to avoid the condition in the first place.

Once we have the condition I think we are trying to avoid getting an infection called cellulitis which can be serious. If we get cuts, bites, burns etc we have to take antibiotics. I flew long haul in January and wore the sleeve with no increase in swelling at all. My conditions is mild at present, I have had a splinter, couple of cuts and one mosquito bite and have avoided the antibiotics so far. Its just a case of keeping a very close eye for any redness to wounds.

I hope you dont develop the condition and all your treatment goes well.

Love Judy

I had 14 lymph glands removed during my mastectomy 3 years ago. Since then I have taken good care of my “at risk” arm however I continued going to the gym doing weights and cardio, carrying the shopping, doing the hoovering/ironing etc (which my BC nurse told me is good exercise for your arm) and riding my motorbike. I’ve lost a bit of strength and grip so have to ask my husband to do more than I previously would have but otherwise it’s business as usual. You have to be able to live your life as well so I use a bit of common sense and jsut get on with it. Oh, and I’ve flown since surgery with no problems- been snorkelling, swimming etc too.

Thankfully I haven’t had any problems with my arm.I had aux clearance and radio to the underarm 5+yrs ago.In those days we were told to do light exercises and lift nothing heavy.But circumstancally I had to get on with things - like moving flats during chemo and houseclearing almost singlehandedly not long after radiotheraphy.I didn’t have time to think about the risks- my arm certainly didnt feel bad else I wouldnt have done it! My job involves lifting heavy things and I’ve carried on as normal.
I’ve also cut my finger quite badly,It was a clean cut but after two days it was still painful and not healing so I went to my local A&E,and was put on a 2wk course of antibiotics which soon sorted it.Maybe I’ve just been lucky- or maybe lymphoedema is not inevitable.
Josie x