What is lymphedema? Lymph is colorless fluid that circulates throughout your body. It flows through your lymphatic system—a network of lymphatic vessels, tissues and organs that help your body remove toxins and waste. Lymphedema occurs when there is an abnormal buildup of lymph just below your skin—in your body’s soft tissues—resulting in swelling. Lymphedema can affect many parts of the body, but it’s most common in the arms and legs. Lymphedema is a chronic condition. It has no cure, but it can be medically managed in many cases. There are two types of lymphedema, primary and secondary. A defect in the lymphatic system itself causes primary lymphedema. This form is rare. Secondary lymphedema is the result of injury or damage to the system. Lymphedema symptoms progress through four stages. While doctors cannot offer a cure for lymphedema, they work with patients on access to physical therapies and healthy living strategies to help manage the symptoms and improve quality of life.