One of the main problems of microsurgery for lymphedema consists of the discrepancy between the excellent technical possibilities and the subsequently insufficient reduction of the lymphoedematous tissue fibrosis and sclerosis. Appropriate treatment based on pathologic study and surgical outcome have not been adequately documented. Over the past 25 years, more than 1000 patients with peripheral lymphedema have been treated with microsurgical techniques. Derivative lymphatic micro-vascular procedures has today its most exemplary application in multiple lymphatic-venous anastomoses (LVA). For those cases where a venous disease is associated to more or less latent or manifest lymphostatic pathology of such severity to contraindicate a lymphatic-venous shunt, reconstructive lymphatic microsurgery techniques have been developed (autologous venous grafts or lymphatic-venous-lymphatic-plasty - LVLA). Objective assessment was undertaken by water volumetry and lymphoscintigraphy. Subjective improvement was noted in 87% of patients. Objectively, volume changes showed a significant improvement in 83%, with an average reduction of 67% of the excess volume. Of those patients followed-up, 85% have been able to discontinue the use of conservative measures, with an average follow-up of more than 7 years and average reduction in excess volume of 69%. There was a 87% reduction in the incidence of cellulitis after microsurgery. Microsurgical lymphatic-venous anastomoses have a place in the treatment of peripheral lymphedema and should be the therapy of choice in patients who are not sufficiently responsive to nonsurgical treatment. Improved results can be expected with operations performed earlier at the very first stages of lymphedema.
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