Lymphedema Surgery

Lymphedema is swelling that results from damaged lymphatics causing a buildup of fluid in the body. The swelling typically occurs in the legs, hands, arms, underarms, breasts, ribcage or chest wall.

Anyone can develop lymphedema. However, people who have undergone cancer treatment are 40% more likely to develop it, because treatments such as radiation therapy can damage lymph nodes. Surgeons at Cedars-Sinai use microsurgery techniques to give you long-lasting relief.

Our Approach to Lymphedema Surgery

Our expert surgeons offer uncompromising care to treat lymphedema and help you continue your path to recovery.

At Cedars-Sinai, you'll experience:

A Top Hospital

U.S. News & World Report has consistently recognized Cedars-Sinai as one of the best hospitals in the U.S. This national ranking reflects our commitment to safe, patient-centered, evidence-based care.

Specialized Training

Our surgeons have undergone intensive training, giving them the necessary skills for this surgery. They often work with cancer specialists to determine treatment options for people who have lymphedema resulting from cancer treatment.

Advanced Surgical Options

Surgery for lymphedema is a promising new path to improve the treatment options for this condition. Our highly specialized surgeons can connect even the smallest vessels to veins. Read more about microsurgery.

Personalized Therapy Plans

Our experts work with specialized lymphedema therapists to make the preoperative and postoperative therapy plans you need to help you live life more comfortably.

Is Lymphedema Surgery Right for You?

You may have tried nonsurgical methods to manage lymphedema but found them ineffective, costly or time-consuming. Surgery may be the answer.

You may also be considering surgery if lymphedema is affecting your daily life and physical or mental health, causing challenges such as:

  • Severe pain
  • Heavy limbs
  • Skin changes 
  • Difficulty moving
  • Reluctance to fly for fear of increased or permanent swelling 
  • Inability to live normally

Lymphedema Surgery: Procedures We Perform

Lymphedema involves your lymph nodes, which are part of your immune system. These small, interconnected structures require sophisticated surgical techniques and a skilled, experienced team.

At Cedars-Sinai, our specialists treat lymphedema with advanced surgical options to provide long-lasting, effective relief from painful swelling. Our team explains your surgical options and recommends treatments that consider your preferences and health.

Lymphedema procedures we perform include:

Vascularized Lymph Node Transfer (VLNT)

We remove scar tissue remaining from any previous surgeries. We then harvest a cluster of healthy lymph nodes from one part of the body and implant them in the affected area to rebuild that part of the system. VLNT requires a short hospital stay and a few weeks to recover. It may take some time to see results.

Lymphovenous Anastomosis (LVA) and Lymphovenous Bypass (LVB)

We connect existing lymphatic vessels to tiny veins located nearby. This procedure reroutes the extra lymph fluid, allowing it to drain into the veins. LVA and LVB are outpatient procedures. You'll get back to your daily activities after just a few days.

Suction-Assisted Lipectomy (SAL)

We use specialized instruments to remove large portions of fatty tissue for people with longstanding, chronic or solid-predominant lymphedema. Suction-assisted lipectomy is an outpatient procedure and has a short recovery period.

Understanding Your Lymphedema Surgery Options

You don't have to live with the pain, heaviness and hardship of lymphedema. Our skilled surgeons use advanced methods of microsurgery that can help you feel relief.

The Cedars-Sinai team is your partner in care. We are eager to assist you with any questions you may have.

Have Questions or Need Help?

Call us or send a message to our Lymphedema Surgery care team. You can also have us call you back at your convenience.

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