Lymphedema Liposuction with Immediate Limb Contouring

Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2019 Nov 12;7(11):e2513. doi: 10.1097/GOX.0000000000002513. eCollection 2019 Nov.


Liposuction is the treatment of choice for solid predominant extremity lymphedema. The classic lymphedema liposuction technique does not remove skin excess created following bulk removal. The skin excess is presumed to resolve with spontaneous skin contracture. We investigated the technique of simultaneously performing liposuction with immediate skin excision in patients with solid predominant lymphedema and compared the outcome with that from the classic technique.

Methods: Modified liposuction with skin excision (mLIPO) and standard liposuction without skin excision (sLIPO) were offered to patients with solid predominant extremity lymphedema. Skin traction of 4 cm and undulating skin mobility constituted positive "flying squirrel" sign. Patients with negative "flying squirrel" sign were excluded. mLIPO patients underwent skin excision. Surgical outcomes and postoperative complications were compared.

Results: The study enrolled 15 and 26 patients into the sLIPO and mLIPO groups, respectively. mLIPO patients demonstrated statistically significant decrease in seroma/hematoma, contour irregularity, and skin necrosis, while experiencing increased procedural satisfaction.

Conclusions: Skin excision following liposuction for solid predominant lymphedema is safe. It decreases postoperative complication and improves surgical outcome.