Overview of surgical treatments for breast cancer-related lymphedema

Hiroo Suami*, David W. Chang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Citations (Scopus)


Breast cancer-related upper extremity lymphedema is an unsolved iatrogenic complication with a reported incidence ranging from 9 to 41 percent. The increase in volume and recurrent cellulitis of the affected limb cause both physical and mental distress to many breast cancer survivors. However, postmastectomy lymphedema has received little attention, and no curative treatment is available. Conservative treatment with decongestive therapy has been the primary choice for lymphedema treatment, but it is cumbersome and has limited benefits. To date, there is no consensus on surgical procedure and protocol. However, refinements in microsurgical techniques and improved examination devices may lead to the establishment of a standard surgical treatment for lymphedema. This review of surgical procedures for the treatment of postmastectomy lymphedema focuses on microsurgical lymphovenous shunt operations and discusses current issues in surgical treatment and the need for uniform treatment standards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1853-1863
Number of pages11
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


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