Lymphedema Post Plastic Surgery Diagnosis & Treatment

Lymphedema Post Plastic Surgery 

Lymphedema being a heterogeneous disease, surgeons create customized treatment regimens for each patient based on how the condition manifests. Standardized and repeated tests will be essential to measure the limb circumference and special diagnostic tests will also be performed.

Board certified female plastic surgeon Dr. Kristi Hustak provides lymphedema treatments to patients in Houston, Texas, and surrounding communities.

Non-Surgical Lymphedema Treatment

Once you are diagnosed with lymphedema, your doctor will recommend the following non-invasive modes of treatment:

  • Use of compression stockings at all times except when bathing
  • Physical therapy to stimulate lymph movement
  • Weight loss
  • Complete decongestive therapy (CDT) with a certified therapist

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.  

Who is a Candidate for Lymphedema Surgery?

Surgeons look for the following characteristics when recommending you for this procedure:

  • A lack of response to all forms of non-surgical therapy for lymphedema
  • An ability to cope with the diagnosis and surgical treatment
  • A positive outlook and realistic expectations from the surgery
  • Absence of other illness or medical conditions that could impair healing

Lymphedema Consultation

During the consultation for lymphedema surgery, the cosmetic surgeon performs a thorough examination of your extremities to take measurements and assess the quality of your skin and the degree of fibrosis. They also take photographs to record the appearance before surgery.

The surgeon will then explain the different lymphedema surgery options and recommend the one that is best for your condition. They also discuss the probable outcome of the surgery and make sure you understand the risks and potential complications that may arise during or following the procedure.

Surgical Procedures to Treat Lymphedema

Based on the specific manifestation of the condition in a given patient, surgeons may use one of the following surgery techniques to give the best outcomes:

Vascularized Lymph Node Transfer

In patients who have undergone radiation therapy or lymph node dissection, the lymph node basins may cease to function. Such patients are good candidates for a vascularized lymph node transfer (VLNT).

In this procedure, the surgeon harvests donor lymph nodes from another part of the patient’s body such as the neck and lower abdomen. Using microsurgery techniques, the surgeon transfers the lymph nodes along with the associated blood supply system and fatty tissue into the extremities affected by lymphedema.

Lymphaticovenular anastomosis

Lymphaticovenular anastomosis (LVA) is a technique that creates a bypass to connect the small lymphatic vessels directly to the nearby venules. This helps to redirect excess lymphatic fluid into the veins of the affected leg or arm.

Surgeons make small incisions on the affected limb and use a surgical microscope to magnify the area below the skin. They locate the tiny lymphatic vessels and connect them to the venules to allow shunting of the lymphatic fluid.

Ablative Procedures

Surgeons may also perform ablative procedures to remove excess soft tissue and skin that reduces bulk and makes it easier to maintain hygiene. Patients in advanced stage of the disease with significant fibrosis are considered for these procedures.

Female cosmetic surgeon Dr. Kristi Hustak receives patients from Houston, Texas, and nearby areas for lymphedema treatments.

Contact Houston, Texas Plastic Surgeon Dr. Kristi Hustak:

For more information on procedures and treatments provided by board-certified female plastic surgeon Dr. Kristi Hustak please call us to schedule a consultation at 713.322.7265 or click here. Offices in Houston, Texas.

Serving The Woodlands, Sugar Land, Katy, Friendswood, Pearland, League City, Richmond, Spring, Humble, Kingwood, Stafford, Cypress, Fulshear, Missouri City, River Oaks, Piney Point, Hunters Creek, Memorial Close In, Bunker Hill, Southside Place, Afton Oaks, Tanglewood, Crestwoods and all other surrounding Greater Houston, Texas communities and more.