Liposuction may reduce lymphedema in cancer patients

liposuction may reduce lymphedema in cancer patients

A new study signals that liposuction could be effective for lymphedema. Liposuction is a cosmetic surgery that removes fat from human body. Lymphedema is a completely different thing. It is a painful condition that causes swelling in their arm, hand, leg, feet etc. It can also be caused as side-effects of cancer treatments. It causes heavy and rigid skin and slows healing of wound.

Some experts from Harvard have applied the liposuction, just under the skin layer, among three patients who were suffering from lymphedema. Two of them were cancer patients and the third one was suffering from naturally developed lymphedema. According to the report of the researchers, all the three experiments were successful. Even the result was better than their assumption.

Dr. Arin Greene, Director of the lymphedema program at Boston’s Children Hospital and author of this published study said. “Liposuction is extremely effective at removing fat from underneath the skin, which makes the arm or leg smaller. And the new data show that the surgery improves lymphatic flow and increases quality of life. It actually allows the underlying lymphatic system to move the fluid”.

According to American Cancer Society (ACS), lymphedema occurred among most of the cancer patients (almost 99%) as a part of the disease and its treatment. When cancer cells infect the lymph nodes, the nodes are supposed to be removed along with all the attached lymph vessels and it disturbs the circulatory system. This is the reason of fluid collection as an effect of breakdown of body’s natural drainage system. The radiation therapy can also damage the lymph system that leads to build up fluid beneath the skin. Liposuction removes the stored fat beneath the skin that allows the lymphatic system to function better. Fat removal is useful because fat might add some more fluid to the collected fluid below the skin.


Though researchers were successful to prove their point but Dr. Greene suggested to be cautious about the therapy and treatment. He added that this treatment also includes garments and a massage that promotes the collected fluid to flow through the drainage. “This is not a cure. It improves lymphatic flow, but people still need to take conservative measures, such as wearing compression garments”.

The chief of plastic and re-constructive surgery at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y. Dr. Douglas Roth is hopeful about the research. “As a plastic surgeon, I was taught to stay away from areas with lymphedema. The tissue is already compromised, making concerns about complications more significant. These areas need to be treated very, very carefully. But this is definitely a breakthrough in thinking about the treatment of this problem, and it’s a brand-new procedure that could be very helpful”.