Lymphedema Post Plastic Surgery
Lymph nodes are vital for the drainage of lymph fluid from different parts of the body. When they stop functioning adequately, it results in the condition called lymphedema, in which there is swelling of the extremities (that is, the arms and/or legs).
Lymphedema can be of two types: primary or congenital, and secondary which is caused by trauma, infection or most often, by cancer treatment. In a few rare instances, lymphedema may arise following plastic surgery in which the lymph vessels are affected.
Modern Body Contouring & Laser Center, led by board certified plastic surgeons, provides lymphedema treatment to patients in Northern Virginia, Washington DC, Vienna, McLean, Loudoun, Ashburn, Tysons Corner, Reston, Arlington, Chevy Chase, Richmond, Fredericksburg, and surrounding locations.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) Massage Treatment Post Surgery
The success of post-surgical advanced manual lymphatic drainage massage lies in its gentleness. Most experts believe that heat and deep massage are counterproductive in a post-surgical setting; thus, it is important that you NOT substitute deep tissue massage, Swedish massage, or other massage technique for this advanced treatment. Your specific treatment plan—including when to begin advanced MLD and how frequently you should receive treatments—will depend on the surgical procedure you had and your unique state of health.
Post-surgical MLD is an advanced technique requiring specialized training, and should only be performed by a licensed massage therapist. If you have had—or if you are planning to have—a mastectomy or a cosmetic procedure such as a facelift or liposuction.
Read more about post surgery massage for MLD.
What are the Surgical Options for Lymphedema?
If non-surgical treatments do not yield the desired results, your doctor will discuss the surgical options available to treat your lymphedema. These include the following:
Lymphatic fluid that cannot drain into the bloodstream starts to spill into the surrounding tissues, causing inflammation and stimulating the growth of fat cells. Liposuction is an outpatient procedure in which the surgeon removes the extra fat resulting from lymphedema. It has a very short recovery time.
Also called lymphovenous bypass, this procedure uses microsurgery to bypass the damaged lymph nodes and re-routes the lymphatic vessels to directly drain into the veins. This is also done on an outpatient basis and you can resume your regular activities in a few days.
Vascularized Lymph Node Transfer Surgery
Here, the surgeon harvests a group of lymph nodes from a part of the body unaffected by lymphedema and transplants them into the affected area. This procedure requires hospitalization and you will require a few days to get back to your usual activities.
This involves skin grafts to repair the area affected by lymphedema. This is a more extensive procedure, and the repaired area will require great care after the surgery. Most patients take about a month’s time to resume their normal activities following this form of surgery.
Preparing for Surgery
Before lymphedema surgery, your surgeon will ask you to:
- Stop smoking
- Lose weight
- Get a medical evaluation or a few lab tests
- Adjust existing medication, or take new ones
- Undergo special imaging tests such as ICG lymphography
- Stop taking or avoid anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin, and herbal supplements that may increase bleeding
Lymphedema surgery typically involves a short stay in the hospital and is usually performed under general anesthesia. A few follow-up procedures may be conducted under local anesthesia with sedation on an outpatient basis.
Results of Lymphedema Surgery
Most patients find a significant decrease in the circumference or volume of the extremities over the course of several months after lymphedema surgery. They also observe an improvement in symptoms of heaviness and tightness following surgery. Depending on the type of surgery you have undergone, your doctor will advise the non-surgical therapy that you must undertake regularly to maintain the results achieved through the surgery.
Plastic surgeons Dr. Burton M. Sundin and Dr. Reps B. Sundin at MBody receive patients from Northern Virginia, Washington DC, Vienna, McLean, Loudoun, Ashburn, Tysons Corner, Reston, Arlington, Chevy Chase, Richmond, Fredericksburg, and nearby areas for lymphedema treatment.
CONTACT MBODY CONTOURING AND LASER CENTER in NORTHERN VIRGINIA
For more information on the surgical and non-surgical procedures and treatments by Board Certified Cosmetic Plastic Surgeons Dr. Reps Sundin and Dr. Burton Sundin please visit or click here to contact us.
Serving Northern Virginia, Washington DC, Vienna, McLean, Fairfax, Loudoun County, Ashburn, Tysons Corner, Reston, Arlington, Fredricksburg, Chevy Chase, Potomac, Maryland Richmond, VA and surrounding communities.