Articles

DOES LIPOSUCTION FOR LYMPHEDEMA WORSEN LYMPHATIC INJURY?

Authors
  • W.F. Chen
  • S.K. Pandey
  • J.N. Lensing

Abstract

Liposuction for treatment of lymphedema is an effective and time-tested treatment. However, as there is a fear regarding further lymphatic damage caused by liposuction, we objectively compared lymphatic function pre- and post-liposuction. All patients with solid-predominant lymphedema who were treated during the study period of June 2014 and November 2018 were included. Patients were assessed using patient-reported baselines/outcomes, lymphedema- specific quality of life scale (LYMQOL), limb circumference/volume measurements, and indocyanine green lymphography (ICGL) preoperatively and at predefined postoperative time intervals. Fifty-seven limbs from 41 patients were included. Mean lipoaspirate volumes were 2035 mL, 5385 mL, and 3106 mL for the arm, thigh, and leg, respectively with a mean adipose fraction of the lipoaspirate of 71%. All patients underwent redundant skin excision with the “flying squirrel” technique. The mean follow-up was 10.7 months (range 3 – 48 months) with a mean limb volume reduction of 32.2% and all patients reporting satisfactory relief of symptoms. All showed statistically significant improvement in LYMQOL in symptoms, appearance, and function. On ICGL, none showed worsened lymphatic drainage, rather, all showed improved lymph drainage. Furthermore, the improved lymph drainage was found to be progressive during the study period in all patients. Our study results demonstrate that treating extremity lymphedema with liposuction does not worsen lymphatic function and in fact, paradoxically, it induces progressive improvement in lymph drainage.

Keywords: liposuction, lymphedema debulking, lymphedema, lymphatic injury, ICG, indocyanine green, lymphography, lymphatic dysfunction

How to Cite:

Chen, W. & Pandey, S. & Lensing, J., (2023) “DOES LIPOSUCTION FOR LYMPHEDEMA WORSEN LYMPHATIC INJURY?”, Lymphology 56(1), 3-12. doi: https://doi.org/10.2458/lymph.5871

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Published on
29 Nov 2023
Peer Reviewed