You can get relief from lymphedema with advanced surgical treatment. The plastic surgeons at Cedars-Sinai are experts with specialized training in the microsurgical techniques needed to treat the condition.
Our Approach to Lymphedema Treatment
Lymphedema surgery can change lives. It’s a highly specialized plastic surgery procedure that’s not yet widely available in the Los Angeles area.
Lymphedema is swelling caused by a buildup of fluid in the tissue under your skin. Swelling typically occurs in the legs, hands, arms, underarms, breasts, ribcage or chest wall. Anyone can develop lymphedema, but it is a common side effect of cancer and radiation treatment.
We use supermicrosurgical techniques to perform lymphedema surgery. Supermicrosurgery combines a powerful operating microscope and very small surgical instruments. These precision tools enable our plastic surgeons to repair delicate vessels and transfer tissue from one part of the body to another.
Surgery may help if you haven’t had success with other treatments, such as compression and exercise. Surgery can reduce fluid buildup and promote drainage, helping you feel and look better and reducing the tightness and heaviness that come with lymphedema.
Our Lymphedema Expert Team
Our plastic surgeons have specialized training not available at most hospitals in the region.
Lymphedema: What to Expect
Our plastic surgeons use advanced diagnostics to determine if you’re a candidate for lymphedema surgery and to be sure you don’t have a different condition. We also use sophisticated imaging that can pinpoint blockages in the lymphatic system.
Lymphovenous bypass (LVB)
We can reroute existing lymphatic vessels around the damaged area and connect the vessels to nearby working vessels. This procedure, called lymphovenous bypass (LVB) or lymphovenous anastomosis (LVA), allows lymphatic fluid to drain properly. LVB/LVA is an outpatient procedure.
Vascularized lymph node transfer (VLNT)
We can take healthy lymph nodes from another part of the body and transplant them to the affected area. Vascularized lymph node transfer (VLNT) “rewires” the damaged area and promotes healthy drainage of lymphatic fluid. It can also produce growth of new lymphatic vessels.
VLNT typically requires a short hospital stay. You may see improvement in a few months, but full results can take a year.
Your body needs to be ready for lymphedema surgery. We recommend physical therapy and exercise first, so you’re in the best condition possible before the procedure.
Lymphedema can cause an inflammatory reaction that leaves fatty scar deposits. We can remove these large pieces of fatty tissue using liposuction. Called suction-assisted lipectomy, this outpatient procedure has a short recovery period.