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Case Reports
, 20 (4), 420-2

A Novel Two-Stage Surgical Approach to Treat Chronic Lymphedema

Case Reports

A Novel Two-Stage Surgical Approach to Treat Chronic Lymphedema

Jay W Granzow et al. Breast J.


Surgical treatment of chronic lymphedema has seen significant advances. Suction-assisted protein lipectomy (SAPL) has been shown to safely and effectively reduce the solid component of swelling in chronic lymphedema. However, these patients must continuously use compression garments to control and prevent recurrence. Microsurgery procedures, including lymphaticovenous anastomosis (LVA) and vascularized lymph node transfer (VLNT), have been shown to be effective in the management of the fluid component of lymphedema and allow for decreased garment use. SAPL and VLNT were applied together in a two-stage approach in two patients with chronic lymphedema after treatment for breast cancer. SAPL was used first to remove the chronic, solid component of the soft-tissue excess. Volume excess in our patients' arms was reduced an average of approximately 83% and 110% after SAPL surgery. After the arms had sufficiently healed and the volume reductions had stabilized, VLNT was performed to reduce the need for continuous compression and reduce fluid re-accumulation. Following the VLNT procedures, the patients were able to remove their compression garments consistently during the day and still maintain their volume reductions. Neither patient had any postoperative episodes of cellulitis. SAPL and VLNT can be combined to achieve optimal outcomes in patients with chronic lymphedema.

Keywords: SAPL; Suction-assisted protein lipectomy; lymphaticovenous anastomosis; lymphedema; vascularized lymph node transfer.

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