Lymph Node Procedures
Dr. LoTempio is one of only a few surgeons in the world with the training to treat lymphedema with a microsurgical procedure called Vascularized Lymph Node Transfer (VLNT). She was one of the first plastic surgeons from the US to travel to Paris and learn this leading-edge procedure under the guidance of Dr. Corrine Becker, a pioneer in VLNT.
Although breast cancer surgery may be a life-saving procedure, complications may occur. For some women, the removal of lymph nodes from under the arm is required, and this can lead to chronic swelling of the arm, called lymphedema. This condition can cause pain and disfigurement of the arm, and it can also lead to infections.
In VLNT, lymph nodes are taken from the groin and transferred to the axilla (the underarm). To do this, a lymph node “flap,” along with the associated artery and vein, is harvested from the low-risk area. This procedure may be done alone or may be performed in conjunction with a DIEP flap.
Next, scar tissue is removed from the neurovascular structures of the underarm site and then the flap is transferred. Blood vessels from the flap and the recipient site are then reattached to establish blood flow.
After the procedure, patients receive manual lymphatic massage and wear compression garments and/or bandages. Most patients see an improvement in soft-tissue swelling, a decrease in limb circumference and pain, as well as a decrease in the number of soft- tissue infections. The arms also feel lighter, and because their appearance is so greatly improved, patients may choose to once again wear shorter sleeves and jewelry.