Lymphedema is swelling that occurs in an arm or a leg due to the accumulation of lymph fluid. This condition may develop after lymph nodes are surgically modified or removed or when the lymphatic vessels that carry lymph fluid become blocked with scar tissue. When lymph vessels are blocked, a specialist may perform Lymphovenous Bypass (LVB) Surgery to alleviate symptoms.
About LVB Surgery
Lymphovenous bypass surgery is usually performed using microsurgery techniques. The surgeon uses small surgical instruments to connect a segment of the lymphatic vessel that is not blocked to a nearby vein. In this way, the flow of lymph fluid bypasses the blockage, which should reduce the flow into the affected limb. The results of LVB surgery are typically good to excellent. Some patients see a difference right away, while others do not notice any change for several months.
After LVB Surgery
Patients are moved to a supervised recovery area after their LVB surgery. Here, they are monitored by nursing staff and connected to devices that keep tabs on their blood pressure, pulse, oxygen levels, and body temperature. Most LVB procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis. In these cases, once the anesthesia has mostly worn off and the patient can stand on their own, they can go home. A loved one must drive and stay with the patient for 24 hours, until anesthesia has completely worn off.
Before leaving the hospital or surgery center, the patient will:
- Be given something to drink, and possibly something to eat.
- Be encouraged to walk with assistance.
- Review their discharge instructions with the nurse or doctor.
- Have the opportunity to ask questions.
- The patient should also look at their incision area with their provider so they can note appearance and be more easily aware of changes they should report to their doctor.
At home after lymphovenous bypass surgery, patients are usually comfortable without the use of prescription pain medication. Over-the-counter pain relievers may be taken as approved by the doctor if necessary. Patients are usually cleared to shower as usual beginning 48 hours after surgery. It is ok to get stitches or Steri-strips wet at that time. Until told otherwise, patients should avoid putting pressure near the incisions, and should avoid tight clothing and sleeping on the affected side.
Every lymphedema case is unique and will be managed as such. This information is a general explanation of what to expect after LVB surgery, but patients can also expect to receive detailed aftercare instructions from our staff.
Learn more about lymphedema surgery at Keck Medicine. Contact us at 323-442-7920 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Patel.