Liposuction in Lymphedema Treatment

J Reconstr Microsurg. 2016 Jan;32(1):56-65. doi: 10.1055/s-0035-1549158. Epub 2015 Apr 20.


Background: Lymphedema leads to early deposition of adipose tissue. This may explain why conservative therapies such as complex decongestive therapy (CDT) and controlled compression therapy (CCT), as well as various forms of microsurgical reconstructions, cannot completely remove the excess volume in patients with a large chronic nonpitting lymphedema. Liposuction is therefore a logical and tempting treatment to reduce the adipose tissue volume excess. This article outlines the benefits of using liposuction and presents evidence to support its use.

Methods: The mechanism between adipose tissue depositions is described as well as the surgical technique, postoperative care, volume measurements, effects on the lymph transport, and follow-up.

Results: Fifteen years' follow-up shows complete reduction of the excess volume without recurrence following liposuction in patients with postmastectomy arm lymphedema. The same promising results can also be seen in patients with leg lymphedema.

Conclusion: Various types of treatment of lymphedema are under discussion and there has been some controversy regarding liposuction for lymphedema. Improvements in techniques, patient preparation, and patient follow-up have led to a greater and wider acceptance of liposuction as a treatment for lymphedema in patients with large chronic nonpitting extremity lymphedemas.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Compression Bandages
  • Contraindications
  • Humans
  • Lipectomy / methods*
  • Lymphedema / surgery*
  • Patient Care Team