J Reconstr Microsurg 2016; 32(01): 056-065
DOI: 10.1055/s-0035-1549158
Invited Review
Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Liposuction in Lymphedema Treatment

Håkan Brorson
1  Lymphedema Center, Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Skåne University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

08 January 2015

04 February 2015

Publication Date:
20 April 2015 (online)


Background Lymphedema leads to early deposition of adipose tissue. This may explain why conservative therapies such as complex decongestive therapy (CDT) and controlled compression therapy (CCT), as well as various forms of microsurgical reconstructions, cannot completely remove the excess volume in patients with a large chronic nonpitting lymphedema. Liposuction is therefore a logical and tempting treatment to reduce the adipose tissue volume excess. This article outlines the benefits of using liposuction and presents evidence to support its use.

Methods The mechanism between adipose tissue depositions is described as well as the surgical technique, postoperative care, volume measurements, effects on the lymph transport, and follow-up.

Results Fifteen years' follow-up shows complete reduction of the excess volume without recurrence following liposuction in patients with postmastectomy arm lymphedema. The same promising results can also be seen in patients with leg lymphedema.

Conclusion Various types of treatment of lymphedema are under discussion and there has been some controversy regarding liposuction for lymphedema. Improvements in techniques, patient preparation, and patient follow-up have led to a greater and wider acceptance of liposuction as a treatment for lymphedema in patients with large chronic nonpitting extremity lymphedemas.