“It’s not going to kill me.”

By Christina Oehler
July 09, 2019

Wendy Williams announced big news about her health on Monday morning’s episode of The Wendy Williams Show

The talk show host, 54, addressed a handful of paparazzi pictures that showed her swollen ankles, revealing that she has been diagnosed with lymphedema. 

“Lymphedema, by the way, I’ve been diagnosed,” she told the crowd on Monday, explaining why her ankles were puffy in the images. “It’s not going to kill me, but I do have a machine—and how dare you talk about the swelling of it all.”

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Lymphedema is a condition that causes either one or both legs to swell due to the body’s inability to properly drain lymph fluid, and it usually occurs in an arm or leg. Lymph nodes throughout your body control this fluid, but if your lymph nodes have been damaged or removed, the fluid won’t drain properly. That causes major swelling. 

“The lymphatic vessels are very thin and pliable, so when you operate in the groin area, even with meticulous surgical care, they can be injured and can create an obstruction blocking the return of the lymphatic fluid,” Jason Johanning, MD, professor of vascular surgery at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, previously told Health

Lymphedema can occur on its own (primary lymphedema) or arise as a result of another factor (secondary lymphedema). Risk factors for lymphedema include obesity, older age, and arthritis. Some of the causes of secondary lymphedema can include surgery; cancer or radiation treatment for cancer; and infection.

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Williams joked during her show that the machine she uses to help control the swelling is a hit at parties. 

“I’ve got it under control. If [the swelling] in my feet never goes all the way down, at least I have this machine,” she explained. “I sit for 45 minutes a day. It’s the best party entertainer ever. Everybody [that] comes over wants to do it.”

Using a machine for pneumatic compression is one form a treatment for the condition. Other treatment options include wrapping the arm or leg to help reduce swelling, getting a massage to remove the lymph fluid, and light exercise to help drain fluid. 

“The muscles pump fluid out of the lymph channels,” Britt Marcussen, MD, clinical associate professor of family medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City, previously told Health. “If you’re up and around and moving a lot more, that can help alleviate [the problem].”

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While there is currently no cure for lymphedema, treatment can help manage the symptoms of the condition, the CDC says. However, it’s important to see your doctor if you believe you have lymphedema. In severe cases, doctors may decide to surgically remove some tissue on the affected area to reduce swelling. 

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