Vascularized lymph node transplant is an advanced microsurgical treatment for lymphedema. During the procedure, your surgeon removes lymph nodes from other areas of your body and moves them into areas where you may not have lymph nodes due to cancer treatment. The new lymph nodes help improve the flow of lymph fluid and reduce lymphedema swelling, tightness and pain.
This is the only location in South Florida where you can receive vascularized lymph node transplant. Our fellowship-trained, expert surgeons use innovative microscopic techniques to perform this surgery and improve your quality of life.
Who is a Candidate?
Before undergoing vascularized lymph node transplant, you should complete physical therapy and compression treatment for at least six months. If your lymphedema is not improving or your quality of life is affected, you may be a candidate for lymphedema surgery.
You should be at a healthy weight before your lymphedema surgery.
What to Expect
During your procedure, you will be asleep under general anesthesia. You will be monitored the whole time by an anesthesiologist to ensure you are safe.
Your surgeon will first remove the lymph nodes from the donor area, often from your neck, clavicle area or, back. To remove them, they will use a specialized microscope and tools to disconnect the lymph channels and veins—which are less than a millimeter wide. They will prepare them to move to the new area, where you are missing lymph nodes.
Next, they will use the same microscope to carefully connect the lymph nodes to the veins, arteries, and lymph channels in your limb, using microsutures that are thinner than eyelashes. This helps the lymph node be healthy and start to function in the new area.
After this procedure, you will need to stay in the hospital for three to five days to ensure you have good bloodflow to the lymph nodes. After a week or two, you’ll begin physical therapy to help direct the fluid to your newly placed lymph nodes. You’ll have to continue treatment for three months as well as a home maintenance program.
After one year, you may be able to start weaning off compression or use compression less often. You should experience less pain, less tightness, less swelling, and improved function and range of motion in your limb.
Why Choose Us?
The only comprehensive lymphedema program in South Florida. As one of only three lymphedema surgery programs in Florida, we offer innovative techniques to treat this lifelong disease. You won’t find this specialty care anywhere else in South Florida.
Fellowship-trained, highly specialized surgeons. The plastic and reconstructive surgeons at the University of Miami Health System Lymphedema Surgery program have extensive fellowship training in microsurgery, the type of surgery required to treat lymphedema.
One of only 71 NCI-designated cancer centers in the United States. Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of only two cancer centers in Florida that have been recognized by the National Cancer Institute. The team earned this distinction through its outstanding work conducting research in its laboratories, treating patients in its clinics and hospitals, and reaching out to medically underserved communities with innovative cancer prevention strategies. Our physicians work to advance the field of lymphedema treatment and prevention with new procedures.
Multidisciplinary care, all in one place. The Lymphedema Surgery Program is part of the multidisciplinary care you can receive at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. All of your physicians and providers, from your oncologist to your physical therapist, your surgeon to your dietitian, work together to improve your quality of life.
Teaching the next generation of healthcare providers. As an academic program, our physicians train the next generation of doctors and providers in many different specialties to offer high-care for lymphedema. With more providers experienced in lymphedema care, future patients can get the treatment they need.
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