Lymphedema is a disorder that is common after lymph node removal or radiation therapy which creates a block in the lymphatic system and causes lymph fluid to accumulate. The fluid builds up leading to swelling in areas like the arms and legs. Lymphedema is often seen in breast cancer patients after the breast is removed, as well as after prostate cancer, uterine cancer, melanoma, and several other cancers. While the damage done to the lymphatic system cannot be reversed, the symptoms created, including swelling, can be treated with microsurgery that restores the flow of the lymph system. Dr. Manish Champaneria specializes in several microsurgical lymphedema surgeries at his practice in the San Diego area.
Lymphedema Surgery Reviews
"Dr. Manish Champaneria is an exceptional doctor. His friendly and sincere nature was refreshing and reassuring, and his microsurgery skills have stood out through his results.Dr. Champaneria performed lymph node transfer surgery to treat the lymphedema that I had in one leg and groin from prostate cancer treatments two years earlier. Six months after the surgery, my lymphedema is now 90% gone, and life is back to being much more normal. I'd recommend him to anyone with a similar condition."- M.M. / Healthgrades / Feb 18, 2019
"After cancer came the lymphedema. Then came the radiation scarring and pain. I am an RN and have an inside tract on how to investigate and choose the best surgeons. Thank God for Dr. Champaneria, his great attitude, and his precision microsurgical skills. The pain and lymphedema are gone. I highly recommend this gifted surgeon!"- J. / Healthgrades / Dec 15, 2018
"I have lymphedema in one leg as a result of cancer treatment. Dr. Champaneria performed my lymph node transfer surgery, a relatively new procedure that can improve the condition. Throughout the pre and post treatment, he clearly explained the process and answered my numerous questions. His office coordinated the insurance approval and all appointments. Most importantly, only three months post-surgery, I am seeing great results! Dr. Champaneria is kind, compassionate, and very skilled - I highly recommend him."- L. / Google / Nov 06, 2020
"Microsurgery for Lymphedema - After cancer came the lymphedema. Then came the radiation scarring and pain. I am an RN and have an inside tract on how to investigate and choose the best surgeons. Thank God for Dr. Champaneria, his great attitude, and his precision microsurgical skills. The pain and lymphedema are gone. I highly recommend this gifted surgeon!"- J. / RealSelf / Dec 14, 2018
"After cancer came the lymphedema. Then came the radiation scarring and pain. I am an RN and have an inside tract on how to investigate and choose the best surgeons. Thank God for Dr. Champaneria, his great attitude, and his precision microsurgical skills. The pain and lymphedema are gone. I highly recommend this gifted surgeon!"- J. / RealSelf / Jun 19, 2019
Since the lymphatic vessels and lymph nodes are invisible to the naked eye, lymphedema surgery involves advanced microscopic surgery. New techniques include lymphosuction and excision of the lymphedema tissue, while more traditional techniques include lymph node transfer and lymphatic bypass.
Lymphosuction involves liposuction of the lymphedema limbs to treat lymphedema. Lymphosuction uses smaller incisions than some of the other techniques and has a shorter recovery period. Patients will need to wear compressions garments after the surgery to maintain their results.
Vascularized lymph node transfer (VLNT) treatment transfers healthy lymph nodes to the part of the body with non-functioning lymph nodes. This technique is best at treating swelling and reducing the amount of infections caused by lymphedema.
Lymphaticovenous anastomosis bypass surgically re-routes the lymphatic channels to a nearby vein, which allows the excess lymph fluid to drain and establish a normal flow. The bypass involves the surgeon using advance microsurgical techniques to work on lymphatic vessels as small as 0.3 mm.
Another option is surgical excision of the affected skin and tissue. Several techniques may be used depending on the location and severity of the lymphedema, but the blocked tissue will be removed and the skin may be reconstructed, if needed.
Lymphedema surgery usually takes 3 – 6 hours, depending on the technique that is being used, in an accredited surgical facility. Most patients will need to spend 1 – 3 nights in the hospital after their procedure for care and monitoring. Once the patient is able to leave and recover at home, it generally takes 2 – 3 weeks before full recovery. Dr. Champaneria will speak to the patient about post-operative care including home treatments that will encourage blood and fluid circulation for more efficient healing.
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Lymphedema Surgery FAQs
The Lymphatic System?
The lymphatic system consists of all the tissues and organs that fight infections and diseases by creating, storing, and transporting white blood cells. The lymphatic system includes the lymph nodes, lymphatic vessels, the spleen, bone marrow, and more.
What Are Lymph Nodes?
Lymph nodes are the small structures within the lymphatic system that filters lymph fluid and stores white blood cells. The stored white blood cells can be used to fight future infections.
Causes of Lymphedema?
- Primary lymphedema: occurs on its own, usually from an inherited condition like Miroy’s disease, Meige’s disease, or late-onset lymphedema
- Secondary Lymphedema: occurs as the results of another disease, such as surgery, radiation treatment, cancer, or infections
There are several home treatments that can help a patient relieve their lymphedema symptoms or speed their healing after lymphedema surgery. Certain pressure garments and exercises can promote fluid movement. Other treatment options include weight loss, laser therapy, massage, prescription medications and more. Dr. Champaneria will discuss all possible treatment options during the patient’s initial consultation.