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MICROSURGICAL LYMPHATIC VASCULAR GRAFTING AND SECONDARY LIPOSUCTION: RESULTS OF COMBINATION TREATMENT IN SECONDARY LYMPHEDEMA

RGH Baumeister, J Wallmichrath, M Weiss, SHC Baumeister, A Frick

Abstract


Surgical treatment of lymphedema with liposuction typically requires subsequent compression therapy. Here we describe an approach where secondary arm lymphedemas are initially treated by autologous lymphatic grafting to bypass the axilla and restore lymphatic flow. In the presence of excess adipose tissue, liposuction is then performed in a second procedure. To assess outcomes, the authors evaluated 28 consecutive adult patients who had undergone secondary liposuction following lymphatic grafting. Arm volumes were measured prior to lymphatic grafting and after the secondary liposuction. The necessity for additional treatment by compression garment and manual lymphatic drainage was assessed prior to lymphatic grafting and after the secondary liposuction following the direct postoperative regimen. The mean arm volumes were reduced significantly (p<0.001) from a mean of 3417±171 (SEM) cm[cubed] prior to lymphatic grafting to 3020±125 cm[cubed] after reconstruction of the lymphatic vascular system and finally to 2516±104 cm[cubed] after the secondary liposuction (SLS). All 28 adult patients underwent continuous compression and manual lymph-drainage (MLD) prior to the reconstructive surgery. All 28 patients were evaluated regarding necessity of any additional therapy more than 6 months after SLS with a median follow up period of 37 months (range, 7-160 months). 18 of 28 patients did not require any supportive therapy beyond 6 months after SLS to maintain the results. Three patients continued to utilize manual lymphatic drainage, 4 used a combination of MLD and compression therapy and 3 used elastic compression therapy (one patient only while at work). These results indicate that microsurgical restoration of lymphatic outflow followed by SLS eliminates the need for additional treatment in more than two thirds of patients.


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