This is the best site I've come across explaining swelling and drainage issues. There are many, many site to site references.
Here's just a sample:
Starting Treatment: The Intensive
An intensive, which is also known as an intervention, is the beginning phase of treatment for lymphedema that has reached stage 2 or stage 3. After an intake interview and evaluation treatment is planned to meet the individual patient’s needs.
One of the most important elements in an intensive, and throughout treatment, is patient cooperation. You are not passive here! You have a role to play. Throughout treatment you need to work with your therapists, to learn and practice new skills, and to “do what it takes” to get your lymphedema under control.
Before you begin the intensive, check with your insurance company to determine what is, and is not, covered. Having this knowledge in advance should provide some peace of mind while undergoing this treatment and it gives you time to make an appeal if necessary. See Insurance Letters of Appeal.
Many plans cover one treatment session per day and some also cover exercise classes; however, there may be questions about payment for the compression aids.
Intensive Treatment May Include
When there is extensive swelling and fibrosis your treatment plan will probably include the following components:
Daily treatments. Most commonly daily treatments are scheduled over a period of one or two weeks. This varies according to the patient and in severe cases it can take much longer.
Self-Care Instruction. During these sessions your therapist will instruct you in important self-care techniques including self-massage, self-bandaging, skin care, and an exercise program. If you cannot perform these tasks for yourself, you should plan to bring with you a family member, friend, or caregiver who will be providing these services for you.
Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD). Your treatment session usually begins with an MLD session provided by your therapist. The goal of this MLD is to improve the flow of lymph, reduce swelling, and begin the softening of fibrotic tissues. For more details see Manual Lymph Drainage.
Compression Bandaging. Your therapist will apply compression bandages that you are expected to wear 23 hours a day, seven days a week during this period. These bandages must be changed daily and some facilities have a shower for you to use before the bandages are reapplied. If there is no shower, ask how to handle personal hygiene during this phase. See Compression Methods.
Being Active. Drainage of the lymphatic system requires muscle movements and therefore you are encouraged stay active. Just because these are called bandages does not mean that you need to stop your normal activities. If your leg and foot are bandaged, you’ll wear a special soft shoe, the kind patients wear over a foot cast, to protect your foot and bandages while you are walking. If you already use a cane or walker, you should continue to use these aids during treatment.
Exercises. Some facilities offer specialized exercise classes and, since exercise is an important part of your treatment, you should take advantage of these classes. If no classes are available, your therapist will show you exercises to do on your own between treatments. Doing these exercises improves the flow of lymph and helps you to feel better.
Compression Garments. Toward the end of your intensive, or when you are ready, you will be very carefully measured for a specialized compression garment and compression aid that may replace the need to bandage.
A Case in Progress
This patient is being treated for lymphedema in both legs. Her left leg was treated first and she now wears a compression stocking on that leg during the day.
Her right leg, which is bandaged, is now being intensively treated. When both legs are involved the therapist may treat both legs at the same time during the intensive; however when this is necessary, longer appointments are required to allow for performing MLD and bandaging both legs.
Love and hope,
Hope this helps some of you.