Wendy Williams Reveals Medical Condition: What Is Lymphedema?

Wendy Williams is known for being loud and unafraid to voice her opinion about the world around her, and she has often had to turn that brash personality toward critics and fans alike when it comes to questions about her own life. In the past few months, Williams’ life has been under the public microscope as her long marriage to Kevin Hunter unraveled when his mistress gave birth to his child. 

While this dramatic turmoil unfolded, Williams put her popular talk show The Wendy Williams Show on hiatus, citing struggles with her own health that were exacerbated by the stress of her love life.

Wendy Williams’ health issues

Wendy Williams
Wendy Williams | Cindy Ord/Getty Images

As Williams struggled with her own sobriety, she was unafraid to keep publicly speaking out about her husband and his affair. After all, Williams’ image and public persona is all about exploring other people’s lives, so it makes sense that she would be so open with her own. 

Now Williams has revealed even more about her life.

She used some of her on-air time on The Wendy Williams Show to dismiss rumors about a potential new relationship with Marc Tomblin. While reacting to photos of Tomblin and her holding hands, she opened up about a diagnosis of lymphedema: “So Marc is new to New York and he’s having panic attacks,” Williams told viewers. “I’m unsteady on my feet. I’ve got the vertigo. And lymphedema, by the way. I’ve been diagnosed.” 

Just what is lymphedema and what does it mean for Williams and her career? 

What is lymphedema?

As the Mayo Clinic explains, lymphedema is the term used for swelling in the arms or legs. This swelling can occur in both arms and both legs or in just one limb. It is most commonly diagnosed following the removal of the lymph nodes during cancer treatment, but it can also occur after an infection or due to complications from surgery.

When these nodes are damaged or missing, lymph fluid builds up and causes swelling. 

The symptoms of lymphedema vary quite a bit. Some people will just have a slight swelling that makes that arm or leg appear slightly larger. Other people will experience symptoms so severe that they have difficulty using the affected arm or leg, impacting mobility. Those with lymphedema may also have recurring infections and aching or discomfort in the impacted limb. 

While there is no cure for lymphedema, there are treatments and preventative measures people who have a diagnosis can take in order to protect themselves from the worst of the symptoms. Avoiding tight clothing, resting the impacted limbs, and taking care not to cut or injure the arms or legs can help reduce the risk of severe reactions. 

Williams’ lymphedema treatment

During her reveal, Williams mentioned that she uses a “machine” for 45 minutes a day. She is likely referring to a treatment plan that involves a compression device. Some people with lymphedema wear special clothing that provides compression to the affected arm or leg, and others use pneumatic compression.

In pneumatic compression, the sleeve that slips over the impacted limb is hooked up to a pump that inflates the sleeve, putting pressure on the limb that pushes the built-up fluid. This treatment can help alleviate the painful symptoms of the disease and provide some relief and improved mobility. 

Williams assured fans that her diagnosis of lymphedema wasn’t fatal, and her ability to make jokes about the disease suggests that she is taking it in good humor.

While a diagnosis of lymphedema certainly comes with some real consequences and a likely lifelong treatment plan, fans can expect to see Wendy Williams to continue working on her goals and successful career in the spotlight