Tumescent and dry liposuction of lower extremities: differences in lymph vessel injury

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2004 Feb;113(2):718-24; discussion 725-6. doi: 10.1097/01.PRS.0000101506.84361.C9.


Lipectomy is a standard procedure in plastic surgery. Until now, however, there was no definite information about the influence of different liposuction techniques (tumescent versus dry liposuction) on the integrity of lymph collectors during this procedure. To study the effect of these liposuction techniques on the incidence of lymph vessel injury, postmortem lymphatic preparations were done in nine human cadavers (18 lower extremities). Conventional liposuction with a blunt 4-mm cannula in the dry technique (n = 29 regions) was compared with the tumescent technique (n = 26). Liposuction was performed in parallel to the superficial lymph vessels (longitudinal suction) or transversally in an 80-degree to 90-degree angle to the extremity (vertical suction). Careful surgical preparation of different regions followed. A specific macroscopic lymph vessel injury score was applied to differentiate three degrees of lymph vessel lesions according to the extravasation of patent blue. In all lower extremities, postmortem lymph flow occurred as indicated by patent blue staining of the lymph vessels. Injection of fluid that is obligatory during tumescent suction did not result in grade 2 injury. On the contrary, tumescent suction overall produced significantly fewer lymph vessel lesions when compared with the dry technique (p < 0.05). Longitudinal liposuction produced significantly less injury when compared with vertical suction (p < 0.05). Tumescent suction and dry suction were equally effective in removing adipose aspirates, as verified by circumference measurements. In addition, tumescent liposuction is unlikely to cause major lesions of epifascial lymph vessels during suction procedures vertical to the extremity axis. Therefore, in this respect, this technique is superior to dry suction.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cadaver
  • Coloring Agents
  • Humans
  • Isotonic Solutions / administration & dosage
  • Leg*
  • Lipectomy / methods*
  • Lymphatic Vessels / injuries*
  • Lymphatic Vessels / pathology
  • Rosaniline Dyes
  • Sodium Chloride / administration & dosage


  • Coloring Agents
  • Isotonic Solutions
  • Rosaniline Dyes
  • Sodium Chloride
  • sulfan blue