Lymphedema Surgery

Lymphedema is a disorder in which lymph fluid accumulates, typically in the arms or legs, leading to chronic swelling. Surgery, radiation, and cancer can all contribute to formation of lymphedema. Lymphedema may also be the result of cardiovascular disease, trauma, infection, obesity or a congenital condition. Patients with lymphedema have an increased risk for infection, wound healing problems, pain, and emotional distress.

Diagnosis and Monitoring

Lymphedema can be diagnosed through a medical history and physical examination. Your doctor may measure the circumference of your extremities, which helps to compare the two sides of the body and to assess changes over time. Lymphoscintigraphy is a specialized test where contrast is used to image blockages within the lymph system.

Treatment for Established Lymphedema

There is no cure for lymphedema and the goal of treatment is to improve overall limb function and quality of life. Treatment may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, bandaging, elevation, manual lymphatic drainage, compression garments, pneumatic pumps, exercise, diet modifications, or medication. Some patients may be candidates for surgical intervention to help manage their lymphedema.

  • Lymphovenous anastomosis (LVA) or bypass (LVB)
  • Vascularized lymph node transfer (VLNT)
  • Suction assisted lipectomy (liposuction)

Prevention of Lymphedema

Lymphatic Microsurgical Preventive Healing Approach (LYMPHA) is an innovative surgical technique which is used to help prevent lymphedema in high risk patients such as those with certain types of breast cancer or patients undergoing lymph node surgery.

Multidisciplinary Care

Lymphedema treatment requires a multidisciplinary approach with collaboration between multiple specialists. Our team includes physical therapists, occupational therapists, plastic surgeons, surgical oncologists, nuclear medicine, and interventional radiologists. We offer the full spectrum of diagnostic imaging including lymphangiography and lymphoscintigraphy. Our multidisciplinary team meets monthly to review lymphedema cases and develop the best treatment plan for each patient. We are proud of the top-level care we give all patients. Working as a multidisciplinary team in a world-class academic medical center, we deliver highly specialized care designed to meet your individual needs.


Contact Us

For more information, or to make an appointment, please call us at: (617) 732-5282.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital Main Campus
75 Francis Street
Boston, MA 02115

Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital
1153 Centre Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

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