Lymphaticovenular Bypass Surgery

Supermicrosurgery to treat lymphedema

  • Quick Recovery
  • Reduces Arm Swelling
  • Option After Breast Reconstruction

Lymphedema, or buildup of lymphatic fluid, is a common and often debilitating side effect of breast cancer treatment, causing visible swelling, discomfort, frequent infections, loss of mobility, and sometimes severe disability. Non-surgical treatment options such as physical therapy, compression, and massage must be conducted several times each week or even daily. Moreover, they can only manage symptoms and not effective for every patient.

One of the most promising advancements in treatment options for lymphedema is a supermicrosurgical procedure called Lymphaticovenular Bypass Surgery. Performed by only a handful of specially trained plastic surgeons worldwide, our surgeons at Breast Reconstruction Specialists are trained and experienced in this highly specialized supermicrosurgery technique, and perform this procedure in Dallas, Houston, Memphis and Nashville.

How Lymphaticovenular Bypass Surgery Works

To understand how Lymphaticovenular Bypass Surgery works, it may help to review how the lymphatic system works. Your body contains a network of lymphatic vessels and lymph nodes, which help remove microbes and cellular waste from the body. This system works side by side with your cardiovascular system. The smallest lymphatic vessels absorb a fluid called “lymph,” which leaks out of capillaries and collects cellular waste, toxins, and bacteria. These vessels then send lymph to the lymph nodes, which filter out waste products and then channel the fluid back into your bloodstream.

When lymph nodes located in the armpit, which move lymph out of the arm, are removed during mastectomy or other breast cancer procedure, the system can “back up” in the affected arm, causing fluid to accumulate.

Essentially, Lymphaticovenular Bypass Surgery provides a new channel for lymphatic fluid to be drained from the body by redirecting lymphatic vessels to drain directly into the bloodstream. During surgery, several one-inch long incisions are made in the arm. Under the microscope, dilated lymphatic vessels are surgically attached to tiny veins called “venules,” allowing lymphatic fluid to drain more easily and reducing swelling and pressure in the arm.

Advantages of Lymphaticovenular Bypass Surgery

  • Many patients notice improvement within a few days after surgery. Results continue to improve with follow-up physical therapy treatments.
  • Recovery is very quick. Patients go home the same day as surgery.
  • Pain is minimal after surgery. Lymphaticovenular Bypass is performed very close to skin level and is a much less invasive procedure compared to most surgeries.
  • Treatment can be repeated. In the event that lymphedema returns, we can safely repeat supermicrosurgery.


  • The best candidates are those in the early stages of lymphedema. Progressive or severe lymphedema can result in fibrosis in the tissues, which is extremely difficult to treat, even with Lymphaticovenular Bypass Surgery.
  • Lymphaticovenular Bypass Surgery is a highly specialized procedure that requires a plastic surgeon who is very experienced in microsurgery and has been trained in Lymphaticovenular Bypass techniques.
  • Most patients will need to continue some form of lymphedema therapy, although treatments protocols usually become less frequent or aggressive.

To learn more about Lymphaticovenular Bypass Surgery or other options to treat lymphedema after breast cancer treatment, we invite you to contact us at Breast Reconstruction Specialists. Our highly experienced plastic surgeons will be happy to meet with you to discuss your options.

Contact us today to schedule your complimentary consultation.