What does low level laser therapy feel like?

First of all, it doesn’t hurt. Some people report a tingling or a very gentle "pins and needles" type of feeling in the part of the body affected by lymphoedema.

What effects does low level laser treatment have on lymphoedema?

The benefits expected from low level laser therapy are: softening of tissue, pain reduction and fluid loss. That means the limb volume will get smaller and the swelling will be softer. Less swelling tends to mean a lower chance of getting a cellulitis infection. Some people report improvement in operation scars and a return of feeling to areas numb after cancer surgery. What this adds up to is looking better, working better and feeling better.

How long does it take to work?

A treatment session can be as little as 20 minutes or, if it’s your own laser, as long as you want. There’s no danger of over treating - but no benefit either, so give yourself a rest between cycles of treatment lasting three to six weeks. Some people say they notice an effect immediately after one treatment; most will see gradual improvement over three to six weeks of treatment. Research shows that people are still getting the benefits of further reduced swelling and softer tissue at least three months later. Hospitals in Australia using a more powerful laser recommend that their patients return, ideally, for a single laser and massage session every three months or so as part of the ongoing care of their limb.

What safety precautions do I need to take when having low level laser therapy?

Your LTU904 is a very safe, low power laser. The beam spreads to cover an area about 2cm (3/4 inch) deep and 2 cm across As it’s low power you don’t need to wear any eye protection while using the laser but avoid looking straight into the beam.

Is safe to use a laser when I’m being treated for cancer?

It is generally stated that low level laser therapy should not be used in the presence of active cancer. After surgery it is helpful to begin laser treatment as soon as possible (low level lasers are believed to help with wound healing which involves the lymphatic system) but each patient should take the advice of their own surgeon. There is no evidence that low level lasers interfere with chemotherapy but again each patient should seek the advice of their own oncologist. Some therapists in Australia start laser treatment during radiotherapy.

The protocol adopted in some UK hospitals is to follow the same rules as for MLD (manual lymphatic drainage): if the patient is considered safe to have MLD, he or she will be safe with LLLT.

Will I still need other treatment such as massage, bandaging and compression garments?

Once you are in control of your lymphoedema you can choose which therapies work best for you. Australian treatment centres offer a vigorous massage after low level laser therapy and some encourage sufferers to manage without a compression garment whenever they feel comfortable about doing so. In the UK laser therapy has been used in conjunction with the gentle massage of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD).

Does low level laser therapy work for legs and bodies as well as arms?

Yes. And you can treat any part of your body you can reach yourself – other parts will need the help of a partner, friend or therapist.

Will the LTU-904 work with primary as well as secondary lymphoedema?

Yes. Some therapists think low level laser therapy is even more important for primary sufferers - but it may take a bit longer to see and feel the effects.

One therapist said: "I have found it most useful on people with intracted fibrosis, usually in the lower arm/hand. It softens the tissue gradually over a two week treatment regime, with 20mins of laser per session (I try to do daily treatments, but it is more likely 3 days a week). I always incorporate MLD into the sessions."

What makes the LTU-904 better than other lasers?

The Riancorp LTU904 is the only hand held laser which has been subjected to randomised double-blind controlled clinical trials specifically for the treatment of lymphoedema.

It is small and light but very strongly built so it can be used anywhere. It is easy to use for both therapists and sufferers alike.

Other lasers list a wide range of conditions that they can be used to treat but they do not necessarily claim to treat or show instructions for treating lymphoedema. Some other lasers include heating components: received wisdom is that heat treatments should not be used for lymphoedema. Some lasers are many times more powerful than the LTU-904 and require the therapist and patient both to wear protective goggles. Some are dangerous for other parts of the body such as the thyroid gland.

The LTU-904 is safe for the eyes – though I personally wouldn’t look directly at any laser, even the tiny ones for pointing in presentations – and is safe over all parts of the body including glands and lymph nodes.

The more powerful (and more expensive) lasers have a large base unit and a treatment wand on a wire, while the LTU-904 is hand held, weighing only 0.375kg (13.2 ounces) and can go everywhere with you.

It does also have a battery charger like a mobile phone charger but as it runs for at least 5 hours between charges you don’t normally need to carry that as well.

Why can’t I get low level laser treatment for my lymphoedema on the NHS?

The NHS doesn’t yet have a consistent approach to treating lymphoedema with long established therapies such as compression, bandaging and MLD: provision is very patchy and seems worse for people who have primary lymphoedema and those who did not get secondary lymphoedema from cancer treatments.

M.Day Lymph Advice Limited has prepared pre-purchase questionnaires for NHS buyers and our consultants can help therapists prepare a business case to support the purchase of an LTU-904. We are sponsoring research in primary care into the number of people with lymphoedema of all causes. So far we have found that there may be 10 times more people with lymphoedema than previous best estimates. We hope that establishing the number of people (voters!) with this condition will persuade the government to take their needs more seriously and encourage the NHS to invest in more cost effective treatments such as low level laser therapy.

Does the price of an LTU-904 include VAT?

We quote the price of a laser both with and without VAT. Patients buying an LTU-904 for their own use can sign a VAT form and not pay the tax. Organisations and therapists do have to pay VAT, currently at 20%, unless they are buying with funds donated by patients. Many NHS Trusts and other health organisations have such charitable funds. We are also aware of charities which will directly support a patient wishing to purchase a laser.

Does my LTU-904 come with a warranty?

Yes. Twelve months.

What maintenance does my LTU-904 need?

Every 12 months the LTU-904 needs a re-calibration check by an approved technician which normally takes less than a week door to door. We have the specialist equipment and technical knowledge to carry this out for you. Every 4 to 5 years the LTU-904 will need a new battery pack.

Overall the LTU-904 is a very robust device: Riancorp tells us the earliest ones made are now more than 10 years old and still going strong.

How do I clean my LTU-904?

Your LTU-904 should be wiped with a soft cloth and can be cleaned with alcohol wipes. It cannot be sterilised. Do not use the laser on open wounds.

I’m not sure I want to buy an LTU-904: is it possible to rent a laser for a trial period?

Yes, for a deposit of £500.00 and a monthly charge you can rent an LTU-904 for 1 to 7 months. At any point up to six months you can return the LTU-904 and get your deposit back – after 7 months you can pay the balance of the purchase price and keep the laser. To encourage as many people as possible to have access to an LTU-904 the overall cost of renting and then buying works out at only £30.00 more than the full purchase price.

Where can I find a therapist who has a LTU-904?

We have an excellent specialist lymphoedema therapist with clinics in Devon and Lincolnshire. We ask all the therapists who have bought an LTU-904 to advertise their business on our web pages as a service to patients. This may not be possible for some NHS therapists.

I want to buy or rent my own LTU-904: how long will it take to arrive?

M.Day Lymph Advice Limited keeps a small number of units in stock in the UK – these can be despatched whenever the post office is open. A parcel coming from Australia can take about two weeks to reach you.

If I buy or rent my own, how will I know how to use my LTU-904?

Your LTU-904 comes with an user manual written by Riancorp. We have supplemented this with a set of guidance notes which are based on the practical experience of therapists and people with lymphoedema in using this laser. We encourage home users to contact us by phone with any queries. We are happy to talk through the laser therapy with you before and after you have purchased or rented a laser.

Who buys or rents an LTU-904 laser?

Therapists - or their employers - in a variety of settings have bought lasers to use with patients: our customers include private hospitals, hospices, private lymphoedema specialist clinics. We have now sold about a fifth of our lasers to NHS hospitals.

There are also many individuals living with lymphoedema who have bought their own lasers. Customers often take a rental option so they can try out the laser before they commit to buying one. We have a group of customers who have bought a laser together to share with or without their private therapist's help - Riancorp tells us this arrangement has been popular in Australia.

Other possibilities include a group of patients buying a laser together with their therapist, and a charity buying a laser for use by a patient.

I no longer need a laser therapy unit: what can I do with it?

Talk to us! We will buy back an unwanted laser that is capable of refurbishment because we can get it reconditioned and make it available for someone else to benefit.

How do I make payments?

Don't pay anything until you have placed an order and received an invoice!

You can pay by cheque (Payable to "The Wayside Network Limited"); by bank transfer (details on your invoice); or using your credit card (there is a form on your invoice).

We do not take credit card payments for lasers on-line.

Is there training for therapists?

We can provide training on request for one or more therapists either at our premises in Bristol (free) or at your organisation (for a small fee to cover travel costs). The group training is an interactive workshop covering safety and treatment protocols. An attendance certificate can be provided on request.