Lymphedema and Vascularized Lymph Node Transfer (VLNT)

Dr. Studinger has trained in lymph node reconstruction with Dr. Becker, in Paris, France and in South Carolina.

Lymphedema is the swelling of a portion of the body caused by the blockage or absence of lymphatic drainage. This can occur either as a congenital problem (people are born with it) or one that is acquired. Most commonly in the United States, lymphedema is caused by lymph node removals for cancer (i.e. breast cancer), but it can also occur from trauma, radiation and other diseases. The lymphatic system clears fluid, proteins, and plays an important role in the immune system.

What are some of the problems associated with Lymphedema?

What can you do about Lymphedema?

What is surgical therapy?

Vascularized Lymph Node Transfer (VLNT) is the removal of a small number of lymph nodes from an unaffected site to the area with lymphedema. Once in place, the lymph nodes start to collect the excess fluid buildup and decrease the amount of swelling in the affected area. This can help relieve symptoms of pain and tightness as well as some of the other problems associated with lymphedema.

Am I a candidate for therapy?

The best way to tell if you are a candidate is to have an appointment to assess your lymphedema. Studies will be performed to assess the lymph node function of the area and of the other extremities. Lymph node transplantation can also be coordinated with breast reconstruction with DIEP flaps.