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Lymphedema Post Plastic Surgery Diagnosis & Treatment

Plastic Surgery

October 27, 2020 | 4 minute read

Lymphedema Post Plastic Surgery 

Lymphedema is a condition in which patients develop a painful swelling in their arms or legs. This is caused due to a failure in function of the lymph nodes due to which the fluid of the lymph from the extremities is affected. Primary lymphedema is a birth defect but less common than secondary lymphedema in the developed world.

Secondary lymphedema generally arises due to trauma, infections and following cancer treatment. It may also occur in patients who have undergone plastic surgery if the procedure has damaged the lymphatic vessels. Envy Aesthetic Center, led by board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Marco Gonzalez, provides lymphedema post plastic surgery treatments to patients in El Paso, TX, and surrounding communities.

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.

Preparing for Lymphedema Surgery

Before you have lymphedema surgery, the doctor will ask you to undergo a medical evaluation that may include some special laboratory tests. Imaging tests such as ICG lymphography may be recommended.

Your surgeon may also adjust the dose of your current medication or ask you to take some new ones. Patients who are on anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin, and herbal supplements will be asked to discontinue taking them a few days before surgery because they tend to increase bleeding. Your doctor may also recommend that you increase your efforts to lose weight and quit smoking if those are issues.

About Lymphedema Surgery

Lymphedema surgery generally requires a hospital stay and will be performed under general anesthesia. Minor follow-up procedures may be done in an outpatient department using a local anesthetic with a sedative.

Based on your symptoms and medical condition, your surgeon will recommend a certain surgical option that they deem fit for you. These could include:

  • Liposuction: This is an outpatient procedure to remove excess fat in the affected region.
  • Lymphaticovenous anastomosis: Also called a lymphovenous bypass, this involves a rerouting of the lymphatic vessels to bypass damaged lymph nodes and allow them to drain directly into the veins. This surgery may be done on an outpatient basis.
  • Lymphovenous transplant: This is also known as a vascularized lymph node transfer surgery. It involves transferring lymph nodes from a healthy part of the body to the area affected by lymphedema. This requires hospitalization and you may take a few days to get back to normal activities.
  • Charles Procedure: This is similar to a skin graft in which the surgeon removes affected tissue and uses it in the form of a skin graft to repair the damaged area. This procedure also requires a hospital stay and it may take up to a month to resume a normal routine.

What are the Results of Lymphedema Surgery?

Results of lymphedema make take a few months to begin to show. Most patients find a decrease in the circumference and volume of the affected limb. The sensation of heaviness and tightness may also begin to reduce.

Most surgeons will recommend the continuation of non-surgical treatments on an intensive basis to maintain the outcomes achieved by lymphedema surgery. Cosmetic surgeon Dr. Marco Gonzalez receives patients from El Paso, TX, and nearby areas for lymphedema treatment.

Contact El Paso, TX Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Marco A. Gonzalez

For more information on Plastic Surgery (cirugía plástica) and Non-Surgical Medical Spa procedures and treatments, please contact the offices of Board Certified Plastic Surgeon (cirujano plástico), Dr. Marco A. Gonzalez (Dr. G) by clicking here or calling 915-600-2639.

Serving patients in El Paso Texas, Las Cruces New Mexico, Ciudad Juárez Mexico and surrounding areas.

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