Lymphedema is a painful, often debilitating, swelling of the limbs that is caused by the lymphatic system’s inability to drain excess fluid. It results in a progressive cycle of swelling and eventual thickening and hardening of the skin and soft tissue that can increase your likelihood of infection and ultimately reduce mobility.
At least one in five women treated for breast cancer will experience lymphedema at some point, but often only for a short time. Fortunately for those suffering lymphedema, in most cases it can be managed with combination of nonsurgical techniques to promote drainage. Those who have exhausted conventional treatments for lymphedema may be candidates for surgical treatment.
There are two modern surgical procedures to reduce the symptoms andseverity of chronic lymphedema: Lymphovenous Anastomosis (LVA) and Autologous Lymph Node Transfer (ALNT). Dr. Christine Fisher is trained in the microsurgical skills needed to perform these procedures and studied ALNT under the pioneer of the technique, Dr. Corrine Becker, in Paris.
In an LVA procedure, Dr. Fisher creates a bypass from a lymph vessel to a small vein in your affected extremity to temporarily relieve lymphatic congestion. In an ALNT, your surgeon actually reconstructs your damaged tissue with a fatty flap that contains lymph nodes. The advantages of an ALNT are longer-lasting results that allow for a re-growth of the lymphatic vessels themselves. All of your options will be discussed with you in detail during your initial consultation. To find out more about the medical and surgical management of lymphedema, call our office to schedule a consultation.