What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a painful, often debilitating, swelling of the limbs that is caused by the lymphatic system's inability to drain excess fluid. It results in a progressive cycle of swelling and eventual thickening and hardening of the skin and soft tissue that can increase your likelihood of infection and ultimately reduce mobility.
At least one in five women treated for breast cancer will experience lymphedema at some point, but often only for a short time. Fortunately for those suffering from lymphedema, in most cases it can be managed with a combination of nonsurgical techniques to promote drainage. Those who have exhausted conventional treatments may be candidates for surgical treatment.
Austin Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
- Known for natural-looking aesthetic results in breast reconstruction and cosmetic surgery.
- Elected by peers for inclusion in Texas Monthly's Texas Super Doctors®: Rising Stars listing.
- Reconstructed over 3,000 patients, including more than 1,500 DIEP flap reconstructions.
- 4.9-star average rating over hundreds of reviews for cosmetic surgery.
Surgical Options to Imporve Drainage & Reduct Swelling in Austin
There are two modern surgical procedures to reduce the symptoms and severity of chronic primary and secondary lymphedema: lymphovenous anastomosis (LVA) and autologous aymph node transfer (ALNT). Austin plastic surgeon Dr. Christine Fisher is trained in the microsurgical skills needed to perform these procedures and studied ALNT under the pioneer of the technique, Dr. Corrine Becker, in Paris.
In an LVA procedure, Dr. Fisher creates a bypass from a lymph vessel to a small vein in your affected extremity to temporarily relieve lymphatic congestion. In an ALNT, your surgeon actually reconstructs your damaged tissue with a fatty flap that contains lymph nodes. The advantages of an ALNT are longer-lasting results that allow for a re-growth of the lymphatic vessels themselves. There is evidence to support ALNT with or without LVA in patients undergoing autologous (living tissue) breast reconstruction as it brings in healthy, non-irradiated tissue. All of your options will be discussed with you in detail during your initial consultation.
Download Our Breast Reconstruction Post-Operative Care Guides
We've compiled detailed post-operative care instructions to best equip our breast reconstruction patients throughout their recovery process. To ensure the best and safest recovery, your plan encompasses appropriate prescriptions and clear directions towards maintaining your comfort to get you back to normal life and activity as soon as possible. Individual patients respond uniquely, and the type of procedure may differ, but these basic guidelines will help you along your journey.