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Signs and symptoms of lymphedema can include:

  • Swelling in the breast, chest, shoulder, arm, or hand
  • Part of your body feeling full or heavy
  • Skin changing texture, feeling tight or hard, or looking red
  • New aching, tingling, or other discomfort in the area
  • Less movement or flexibility in nearby joints, such as your shoulder, hand, or wrist
  • Trouble fitting your arm into jacket or shirt sleeves
  • Your bra not fitting as well as it used to
  • Your ring, watch, and/or bracelet feeling tight, and you haven’t gained weight

Early on, the skin usually stays soft, and raising your affected arm might relieve the swelling. But over time, the swollen area may become hot and red and the skin hard and stiff.

If you’ve had any type of breast surgery, lymph nodes removed, or radiation treatment, look at your upper body in front of a mirror. Compare both sides of your body and look for changes in size, shape, or skin color. Get to know your body and what’s normal for you. This way you can spot changes and get treatment right away.

Last Medical Review: 07/10/2015
Last Revised: 07/10/2015