What is Complete Decongestive Therapy?

Complete Decongestive Therapy is an important, non-invasive, multi-component treatment that is the current “gold standard” for treatment of lymphedema and lipidema. It includes Manual Lymph Drainage, compression therapy, skin and nail care, exercise, and self-care. CDT has two distinct phases: The Intensive Phase and The Maintenance Phase.

During the Intensive Phase, it is important that CDT is being administered 5 days/week for two to three weeks, sometimes more. The main components are Manual Lymph Drainage and compression wrapping, using specific bandages tailored for lymphedema. The goal is to reduce the swelling to a minimum. Once the swelling is reduced, a compression garment is important to be worn at all times in order to keep the swelling contained.

During the Maintenance Phase, patients and caregivers will be educated on self-care techniques including self-MLD, skin and nail care to avoid infections, use of compression garments, and a home exercise program to maintain proper lymphatic function. 

Compression garments can be measured by a professional, and sent into a Durable Medical Equipment company to be custom-made. Off-the-shelf, pre-set sized garments are also available. Compression garments are made to be worn during the day, and night-time garments are recommended for when sleeping.

If you have any questions regarding CDT, please don’t hesitate to reach out.