What is the role of surgery in the treatment of lymphedema?

Updated: Mar 24, 2021
  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Answer

Surgical treatment is palliative, not curative, and it does not obviate the need for continued medical therapy. Procedures are divided into physiologic (to improve lymphatic drainage) and excisional (removal of the affected tissues to reduce the lymphedema-related load) surgeries.

Surgical intervention is reserved for patients who do not improve with conservative measures or for cases in which the extremity is so large that it impairs daily activities and prevents successful conservative management.

See Treatment and Medication for more detail.


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