Post-operative Care

Say Goodbye to Compression Garments after Dr. Cheng’s Lymphedema Microsurgery

Post-Operative Rehabilitation

The Center for Lymphedema Microsurgery provides comprehensive and extensive medical services before and after surgery. It is recommended that lymphedema patients receive post-operative rehabilitation for a period of 3- 6 months. It is most noteworthy that patients no longer need to wear compression garments after Dr. Cheng’s Side-to-End Lymphovenous anastomosis and vascularized submental lymph node flap transfer to distal recipient site for post-operative rehabilitation. It is recommended to massage from the proximal limb to the distal site for 15 minutes 3 times a day one month post-operatively for 3 to 6 months to further improve lymphatic drainage.

Post-Operative Follow-Up

The lymphedema of both upper and lower extremities can cause pain, discomfort, fibrosis, cosmetic problems, and mobility restraints for patients. It is common that lymphedema patients develop various degrees of depression due to physical discomfort, disfiguration, and emotional distress.

With an average of a 2-year follow up after undergoing microsurgical microsurgery including Side-to-End Lymphovenous anastomosis and vascularized lymph node flap transfer to distal recipient site, the affected limb become softer overtime. 90% of lymphedema patients have seen size improvement with a mean circumferential difference of 50%. With the physical improvement, patients are subjectively pleased to resume daily activities and life styles they used to have.

After vascularized submental lymph node flap transfer, you are asked to comply with the rehabilitation program, which includes progressive lower limb muscle strength training and reverse manual proximal (groin) to distal (ankle) lymphatic drainage. You are encouraged to gradually massage the flap, scar, and control body weight control starting after discharge. Reverse manual lymph drainage and flap massage are performed for 15 minutes/time, 3 times daily. You are advised to return to normal activity gradually as tolerated, and all other physiotherapy and compression wrapping are discontinued.

Vascularized submental lymph node flap is placed on the wrist in accordance with the “pump” mechanism and effects of gravity. You do not need to wear a compression garment or bandaging after surgery but are allowed to wear a wrist brace or wrist support to hide the scar on the wrist after the wound complete healed. Another revision surgery to remove the skin paddle and superficial fat of the transferred flap to improve the cosmetic appearance and simultaneous liposuction of the thigh to decrease the production of lymph is recommended after 1 year of vascularized submental lymph node flap transfer.

1. Reverse manual lymph drainage:

  • Time: Performed for 15 minutes/time, 3 times a day, from groin to flap.
  • Method: Medium strength massage that compresses the skin, subcutaneous, fat and muscle in proximal (groin) to distal (flap) direction. This helps encourage drainage of the lymph drainage through the lymph flap and appropriate channels.

2. Flap massage: For increasing the venous drainage of lymph node flap pumping

  • Time: Performed for 15 minutes/time, each 3 times daily.
  • Method: Medium strength massage to pump lymph node flap and the scar around flap.

3. Body weight control:

Time: Check body weight every day. Lighten your weight if your Body Mass Index(BMI) over 25.

4. Infection/cellulitis prevention and control:

Most healthcare-associated infections are preventable through good hand hygiene. It's important to identify and treat cellulitis early because the condition can spread rapidly throughout your body.

  • Red area or “New red spots” of skin that tends to extend from distal to proximal
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Pain
  • Fever over 38.5℃

After the initial postoperative period, you are seen on a monthly basis by sending images. You may use any communication apps, such as Line, WhatsApp, Skype, e-mail or WhatsApp. Surgical outcomes are evaluated by your subjective improvement, circumferential measurements, the frequency of cellulitis, and via patient reported health-related quality of life outcome metrics. We will arrange ultrasonography, CT, and lymphoscintigraphy for checking the number of the lymph node on the flap, lymph node function and volume of the arm after one year.

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