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Lymphedema Post Plastic Surgery Diagnosis & Treatment

Lymphedema Post Plastic Surgery 

Lymphedema Post Plastic Surgery Diagnosis & TreatmentLymphedema is a heterogeneous disease, and therefore, doctors create customized plans to deal with how the disease manifests in each patient. After standardized measurement of limb circumference and special diagnostic tests, your surgeon will be able to plan for your lymphedema surgery.

The Virginia Institute of Plastic Surgery, led by board certified plastic surgeons Dr. Burton M. Sundin and Reps B. Sundin, provides lymphedema treatment to patients in Richmond, Fredericksburg, Northern Virginia, and surrounding communities.

Lymphedema Non-Surgical Treatment Options

When a patient is first diagnosed with lymphedema, doctors put them on non-surgical treatment that involves the use of compression stockings and physical therapy. Patients are advised to exercise and lose weight and put on Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) that involves a combination of therapy with lifestyle measures.

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.  

Am I a Candidate for Lymphedema Surgery?

When all the non-surgical modes of treatment fail to yield the desired results, the patient is considered a likely candidate for lymphedema surgery.

Some of the additional qualities doctors look for in a patient before recommending lymphedema surgery include:

  • An ability to cope positively with the diagnosis and surgery
  • A positive outlook that ensures a realistic expectation from the surgery
  • The absence of other illnesses and medical conditions that may interfere with the recovery from surgery

What to Expect in a Lymphedema Surgery Consultation?

During the initial lymphedema surgery consultation, the cosmetic surgeon will:

  • Assess the quality of your skin, and examine the fibrosis
  • Take photographs and measurements of the extremities
  • Explain the different modes of surgery available and recommend the one that is expected to work best for you
  • Discuss what to expect during the surgery and the likely outcome following it
  • Explain the risks and any potential complications that could develop during and after the surgery

Which Surgical Procedures are Used for Lymphedema?

Your surgeon will assess your condition and recommend the surgical technique that is likely to yield the best outcomes for you. Some of the common surgery procedures used in treatment of lymphedema include the following:

Lymphaticovenular Anastomosis (LVA)

This is a bypass method that seeks to reroute the lymphatic fluid to directly drain into the venous circulation of the leg or arm. This procedure may be performed in an outpatient setting.

Vascularized Lymph Node Transfer (VLNT)

This involves transplanting a vascularized lymph node from a part of the body unaffected by lymphedema into the affected region. This technique is used when the lymph nodes become dysfunctional. VLNT requires hospitalization for a few days.

Women with breast cancer who require treatment of lymphedema in the arm are recommended autologous reconstruction of the breast using flaps from the lower abdomen with lymph nodes attached.

Ablative Procedures

These are operations performed on patients in the advanced stage of lymphedema to remove soft tissue and excess skin. This reduces the bulk of the affected area, and makes it easier to maintain hygiene.

Liposuction has also been successfully used in treatment of advanced lymphedema, but the patient may be required to wear a compression garment in the long run to maintain the effects of this surgery. Plastic surgeons at VIPS receive patients from Richmond, Fredericksburg, Northern Virginia, and nearby areas for lymphedema treatments.

Contact Virginia Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Sundin Today for a Consultation

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

Serving Richmond, VA, Fredricksburg, Williamsburg, Charlottesville, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Tidewater, Sullfolk, Virginia Beach, Northern Virginia, Washington DC, Vienna, McLean, Fairfax, Loudoun County, Ashburn, Tysons Corner, Reston, Arlington and surrounding communities.

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