Advanced Stage Lymphedema Treatment
In Stage 3, the affected area becomes very large and swollen, and the skin develops a leathery appearance. At this stage, fluid and thick, fibrous tissue have accumulated, and fungal infections of the skin and nails may be common.
The first step in treating advanced-stage lymphedema is to restore function to the limb by reducing its size through debulking or liposuction. After your recovery from one of these procedures, you may be a candidate for other treatments, such as lymph node transfer or lymphovenous bypass. These options can help reduce symptoms for the long term and give you a better quality of life.
Depending on where the lymphedema is located, we may need to remove tissue and fluid through surgery. At Stanford, we save as much of your skin and tissue as possible and use skin grafts from other parts of the body, if necessary.
In this outpatient procedure, we insert a small vacuum-like tool through the skin of the limb with lymphedema to remove extra fluid and tissue. This procedure is less invasive than traditional debulking and offers a shorter recovery time and less scarring. Liposuction reduces the size of your limb but does not cure lymphedema. You will have to wear a compression garment consistently to prevent future fluid and tissue buildup.