WHAT IS a Lymphedema Reconstruction?
Lymphedema reconstruction can improve your health and quality of life by relieving the constant pressure and pooling of lymphatic fluid where your lymph nodes used to be before having a life-saving mastectomy. Our board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Pierre Chevray, in Houston, TX can surgically relieve lymphedema when your lymph nodes are compromised by cancer. The pain and swelling caused in your upper body (near the breasts) are due to your body not processing your lymphatic fluids efficiently. You may even have a blockage in your lymphatic system from the constant surplus of fluid.
At Chevray Plastic Surgery, you can have a consultation with Dr. Chevray about lymphedema reconstruction. He can perform lymphedema reconstruction by transferring healthy lymph nodes from your body. Using his skillful microsurgical techniques, he can decrease swelling, the collection of fluid, and relieve this painful condition. Please schedule an appointment for a consultation to see if you qualify for this life-changing process to alleviate lymphedema after a mastectomy.
"Dr Chevray did an amazing job on my abdominoplasty. I could not believe the difference it made, as I have been carrying around ‘extra’ tummy weight for years. Dr Chevray was a blessing to me. Also he has the best team with Patrick and Carol. They all treated me as if I was there one and only patient. It made me feel very special. Highly recommend Dr Chevray!"- M. / RealSelf / Mar 24, 2020
"I saw Dr Chevray for breast reconstruction. I highly recommend him. Patrick and Carol are awesome. It was a very scary time for me and they made me feel special. I had a few bumps during recovery but he and his staff were always available to me. I can not express how thankful I am for this wonderful team."- W.B. / Facebook / Jan 31, 2020
"Dr Chevray did an amazing job on my abdominoplasty. I could not believe the difference it made, as I have been carrying around ‘extra’ tummy weight for years. Dr Chevray was a blessing to me. Also he has the best team with Patrick and Carol. They all treated me as if I was there one and only patient. It made me feel very special. Highly recommend Dr Chevray!"- Anonymous / RateMDs / Mar 23, 2020
"I saw Dr Chevray for breast reconstruction after mastectomy. He is kind, compassionate and very caring. His PA Patrick and nurse Carol are fantastic. They were always available for me at any time during my recovery. Words can not express how thankful I am for this team. I would highly recommend him if you ever need top notch care for reconstructive surgery."- W.B. / Healthgrades / Feb 01, 2020
"Wonderful Caring Team - Dr Chevray, Patrick and Carol were all wonderful, sympathetic and caring. All my questions were answered, they gave me plenty of time and I am very pleased with my results. After my cancer they were very quick to respond and made sure I understood everything that was happening."- J. / RealSelf / Jan 31, 2020
Do I qualify for Lymphedema reconstruction?
You may qualify for a lymphedema reconstruction at any time of your reconstructive process. When your lymph nodes are removed, your body has fewer avenues to process and eliminate lymphatic fluid. This can be a toxic condition for women who have had their lymph nodes removed during their mastectomy because of cancer. A candidate for lymphedema reconstruction may have:
- Small blood vessels that cannot withstand the surplus of lymphatic fluid
- Chronic swelling and changes in skin texture in the arms or near the treated area
- Limited range of motion with the arm and shoulder
- Repeat infections and fevers
- Tightness to the skin because of swelling
- Skin that is sensitive to the touch
Dr. Chevray will consult with you if you have one or all of the following symptoms of lymphedema.
Techniques for Lymphedema Reconstruction
Dr. Chevray has excellent skills in microsurgery to perform the surgical techniques for your lymphedema reconstruction. He typically treats lymphedema in an outpatient or inpatient setting with general anesthesia in the following ways:
- Vascularized lymph node transfer
With a vascularized lymph node transfer, Dr. Chevray will use microsurgery to move some of your own healthy lymph nodes to your underarm. He will harvest functioning lymph nodes from a location that can easily conceal a scar (such as the groin). Both of these techniques will be performed in the same surgery.
- Lymphovenous bypass
This intricate microsurgery is a technique that is used to treat advanced lymphedema with the placement of a shunt or "bypass" where the lymph nodes used to exist. The shunt will give the fluid from the infected region a path to other blood vessels. The goal of this surgery is to give you better drainage of the lymphatic fluids causing the pain and swelling.
The technique that will be used to complete your lymphedema reconstruction depends on the stage of your treatment, the severity of your swelling, and the pain you live with due to the condition. A treatment plan will be created prior to your surgery so that healthy expectations can be set in place beforehand.
In Your Recovery
During your recovery, the goal is to reduce the amount of swelling you have and feeling in the treatment area. It is very important to continue your other lymphedema interventions and therapies, such as enduring lymphatic massages and wearing compression garments as directed by Dr. Chevray. Following all your post-op instructions, going to appointments, and taking care of yourself will be your main focus after surgery. If you do not have improvement after lymphedema reconstruction, please contact our office to see Dr. Chevray.
FAQS for Lymphedema reconstruction
What are the signs of secondary lymphedema?
Secondary lymphedema is very common in women who have had mastectomies for cancer treatment. The first signs of the condition are noticeable — swelling, pain, tightness of the skin, limited mobility, changes in skin texture, and repeat infections. Dr. Chevray will discuss with you what symptoms to look for if you suspect that you would benefit from lymphedema reconstruction.
What is bypass lymphedema surgery?
If you have advanced lymphedema, you may need to have a lymphovenous bypass, or shunt, placed to keep the lymphatic fluid flowing and going where it needs to go instead of causing massive swelling, pain, and infection.
Can I have lymphedema reconstruction if I know I don't have sufficient lymph nodes?
You may qualify for a vascularized lymph node transfer during your initial breast reconstruction surgery or as a secondary reconstructive surgery once you know you have the condition. Many women are made aware by their doctor that their blood vessels are too small to handle the overflow of lymphatic fluid. They may also be told if their lymph nodes were removed as a part of their cancer treatment and mastectomy. When the lymph nodes are no longer present, the lymphatic fluid will pool and cause the area to swell. Surgery to relieve this condition is generally the best option for better health, decreased swelling, and less pain/discomfort when the area is painfully swollen.
Dedicated to Your Health
Call our Houston, TX office if you would like a consultation for lymphedema reconstruction with Dr. Chevray. The pain, swelling, and discomfort of lymphedema can impede your life on a physical and emotional level. Your recovery may require this extra step. We invite you to meet with our team at Chevray Plastic Surgery.