What Is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a disease of the lymphatic system. This network of vessels and lymph nodes shuttles fluid and white blood cells throughout the body, similar to the veins and arteries.
When the network is disrupted, usually as the result of cancer surgery, lymphatic fluid may be trapped in one area of the body and start to build up.
Symptoms Of Lymphatic Fluid Buildup
This fluid buildup can cause:
- Reduced range of motion
- Increased risk for infection
- Tissue damage
How Lymphedema Surgery Can Help You
Lymphedema surgery essentially offers new fluid pathways for your body to remove fluid from the affected area. This can result in:
- Pain relief
- Reduced swelling
- Reduced risk of inflammation
- Reduced risk of tissue damage
- Restored range of motion
Whenever possible, Dr. Patel uses an approach that combines surgery and lymphedema therapy to offer the best possible results.
What To Expect After Lymphedema Surgery
On average, patients see a 40–50% reduction in excess limb volumes. With combined surgical procedures and lymphedema therapy, Dr. Patel has often surpassed that, giving patients a nearly 100% reduction in swelling.
Dr. Patel and the team also value and keep track of patient-reported outcomes and quality of life. Our aim is to:
- Get you back to your normal life and day-to-day activities
- Reduce or eliminate the need for compression garments
- Decrease infections
See What Patients Are Saying!
“Dr. Patel absolutely goes above and beyond for his patients!”
“Dr. Patel is exceptional in his delivery of service. He is professional, easy to talk to and emphatic.”
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Surgical Lymphedema Treatment Options
Just in the last 10 years, microsurgery techniques have developed that allow a surgeon to reroute stagnant fluid. Dr. Patel is one of the few surgeons in the world trained in these leading-edge methods.
- With a lymphovenous bypass, Dr. Patel creates connections between lymphatic vessels and the venous system, giving the fluid a new pathway out of the affected area.
- In a lymph node transfer, Dr. Patel transplants a lymph node from another part of the body to the affected area, allowing the body regenerate lymphatic drainage pathways.
Below you can see the lymphatic vessel is sewn to the side of a vein with suture for lymphovenous bypass. The blue color shows that the bypass is working because the blue dye travels within the lymphatic vessel to the vein! When we see this, we just know….the fluid is moving great and we can expect a good outcome!
Recovery From Lymphedema Surgery
Lymphovenous bypass and lymph-sparing liposuction are both outpatient procedures. Surgeries take just 2–4 hours.
After surgery, we recommend that patients continue wrapping with compression garments for several weeks. This is coordinated with a lymphedema therapist.
Vascularized lymph node transfer is a 3–4-hour procedure that usually requires 1–2 nights in the hospital. There is usually very little pain, and patients tolerate the procedure well.
How Can I Find The Right Lymphedema Therapist?
We have a talented team of trained on-site therapists who offer physical therapy and work with our surgical team to give you the best possible results. If you live outside of Southern California, they can help coordinate therapy with providers in your area.
We also are in the process of developing an alliance of regional therapists expertly trained to focus on you before and after surgery to maintain consistent care.