Lymphaticovenular Bypass Surgery
Lymphedema is a condition that causes an abnormal build-up of fluid under the skin that causes painful swelling in the body, commonly seen in the arms or legs. In addition to playing an important role in the body's immune system, a healthy lymphatic system collects excess fluid from the spaces between cells and returns it to the circulatory system. If at any point during cancer treatment this vital drainage network is damaged fluid, which is normally circulated through the body and drained, can build up in the spaces between cells, causing tissue inflammation and visible swelling. When non-surgical treatments, such as physical therapy are unable to relieve swelling, a surgeon may recommend a microsurgical procedure called a lymphaticovenular bypass. Plastic surgeons with special training use a surgical microscope to perform this advanced and intricate super microsurgery technique to treat mild to moderate lymphedema. While the patient is under general anesthesia, the surgeon makes several inch-long incisions in the affected limb. With the aid of a powerful surgical microscope, the surgeon isolates dilated lymphatic vessels directly beneath the skin. The surgeon then redirects or shunts fluid from the dilated lymphatic vessels to neighboring tiny veins called venules.
The lymphatic vessels are connected directly to the venules which allows lymphatic fluid to drain directly into the venous part of the bloodstream, reducing pressure in the affected limb. After surgery, physical therapy is continued to help improve the flow of lymphatic fluid in the affected area as the body heals with a goal to achieve reduced swelling, increased mobility and improve physical appearance. For more information on options available for the surgical treatment of lymphedema at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, visit cancercenter.com or call 800-333-CTCA.
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