There are two types of lymphedema: primary and secondary. Primary is congenital and secondary generally occurs because the lymph system is damaged, usually by cancer treatment. Lymphedema presents as swelling, which is caused by a buildup of lymph fluid, most often in the arm(s) and/or leg(s), and occasionally in other parts of the body.
Left untreated, this stagnant, protein-rich lymph fluid becomes a potential breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause cellulitis: a treatable, but potentially very dangerous skin infection. Untreated lymphedema can also cause permanent dis-figuration of the affected limb(s), obviously greatly impacting quality of life, self-esteem, and mobility.