When lymph nodes lose their ability to properly drain lymph fluids from different body parts, it results in painful swelling in the arms and legs. This condition is called lymphedema. Vinings Surgery Center, led by board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Colgrove, provides lymphedema post plastic surgery diagnosis and treatments to patients in Atlanta, Marietta, Georgia, and surrounding locations.
What Causes Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is usually seen in patients that have undergone cancer treatments for urologic, breast, skin, melanoma, or gynecologic cancer. The condition may also develop sometimes in patients that have undergone cosmetic or plastic surgery.
This occurs when lymph vessels get damaged during a surgical procedure. Lymphedema symptoms may occur almost immediately after the surgery or treatment. Sometimes, symptoms can also take months or years to develop.
Patients with lymphedema may experience any of the following symptoms:
- Pain or tenderness in the extremities
- Skin fibrosis and other conditions
- Change in skin quality
- Swelling and excessive fat deposits in the extremities
- Cellulitis or occasional redness in extremities
Symptoms may start off as mild, but will become more severe over time as the condition progresses.
Treatment Options for Lymphedema
Lymphedema doesn’t have a cure. However, effects of the condition can be controlled in various ways. Non-surgical procedures are employed first when a patient is diagnosed with lymphedema:
- Compression stockings
- Keeping extremities elevated
- Pneumatic compression
- Weight loss with exercise
- Skin care regimen
- Physical therapy
Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) is the best way of treating lymphedema. This needs to be administered by a trained and certified lymphedema therapist who has trained for at least 135 hours. This skin therapy involves draining lymph manually.
The therapist has to be extremely careful since multiple layers of compression bandages are used. You may need to take antibiotics if your lymphedema is because of an infection.
Doctors advise surgical procedures when non-surgical methods do not work:
- Lymphatic Bypass Procedure: Lymph vessels are reconnected to allow better drainage into the venous blood system
- Vascularized Lymph Node Transfer: Unaffected lymph nodes are harvested and implanted in affected regions to rebuild the lymphatic system from ground up
Most doctors prefer using non-surgical treatments before considering surgical options. Surgery is usually kept as a last resort and used only in case of severe lymphedema. Lymph node transplants and lymphatic to venous anastomosis are newer surgical procedures which may also be considered by your doctor.
Who is a Good Candidate for Lymphedema Surgery?
You are an ideal fit for getting lymphedema surgery if you meet the following criteria:
- You should have no prior medical conditions or illnesses that may interfere with your healing process after the surgery.
- You should have exhausted all non-surgical lymphedema treatment options without desired results
- You should have realistic expectations from the lymphedema procedure. You should also have a positive outlook about the condition and treatment.
- You should be in a good place physically, mentally, and emotionally to cope well with the treatment.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) Massage Treatment Post Surgery
The success of post-surgical advanced manual lymphatic drainage massage lies in its gentleness. Most experts believe that heat and deep massage are counterproductive in a post-surgical setting; thus, it is important that you NOT substitute deep tissue massage, Swedish massage, or other massage technique for this advanced treatment. Your specific treatment plan—including when to begin advanced MLD and how frequently you should receive treatments—will depend on the surgical procedure you had and your unique state of health.
Post-surgical MLD is an advanced technique requiring specialized training, and should only be performed by a licensed massage therapist. If you have had—or if you are planning to have—a mastectomy or a cosmetic procedure such as a facelift or liposuction.
Read more about post surgery massage for MLD.
Cosmetic surgeon Dr. Robert Colgrove receives patients from Atlanta, Marietta, Georgia, and nearby areas for safe and proven lymphedema treatments.
Contact Atlanta Plastic Surgeon Dr. Colgrove to Schedule a Consultation
For more information about treatments and procedures by Board Certified Atlanta Plastic Surgeon, Robert A. Colgrove, Jr., M.D. at Vinings Surgery Center please visit us at www.colgrove.com
Vinings Surgery Center is taking patients from Greater Atlanta Georgia, Buckhead, Marietta, Roswell, Dunwoody and surrounding areas.
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