Lymphedema is swelling that results from an excessive buildup of tissue fluid. This stagnant fluid contains protein and cell debris. Left untreated, lymphedema leads to chronic inflammation, infection, and hardening of the skin. Initial symptoms may include heaviness, tingling, swelling, or pain in the affected area of the body. Your provider will look for changes in the skin and soft tissue of the affected area and will perform a manual examination to feel for any signs of fibrosis or scarring of the soft tissue under the skin. Lymphedema can also occur after cancer treatment, deep vein thrombosis (blood clot), or infection, and it can appear many years after the initial illness.