Liposuction in the late stages of lymphedema

Liposuction is a technique which removes fat through small blunt cannulae. The first reports of its use to help reduce the size of a lymphoedematous limb were published in 1989.

Chronic lymphedema causes an accumulation of interstitial proteins and these osmotically active molecules attract fluid to the affected limb. This process continues in an increase of adipose tissue due to the fibrotic alteration of the chronic lymphedema.

By using liposuction to remove this tissue, we could reduce the volume of the affected limb. This doesn’t cure the lymphedema, but it can down-size the volume significantly. The patient has to wear a compression sleeve after the surgery.