The LYMPHA (lymphatic microsurgical preventive healing approach) technique is currently the only procedure that is able to reliably reduce the risk of lymphedema in patients undergoing surgery. In the LYMPHA procedure, a fluorescent dye is injected to identify lymphatic vessels that have been cut during surgery, some of which may be as small as 0.3 millimeters (around 1/64th of an inch). These lymphatic vessels are then sewn, using ultrafine sutures, to a nearby vein so that the lymph vessels can re-establish drainage and flow.
Only a small number of surgeons have experience with identifying these sub-millimeter lymphatic vessels, performing lymphatic microsurgery and managing the aftercare and potential complications that can arise with lymphedema. Dr. Tanna is one of the few specialized surgeons with the microsurgical background and expertise in this procedure. The LYMPHA procedure is best performed at the time of mastectomy and/or axillary lymph node dissection. Therefore, it requires your surgeon to identify if you are a candidate before your planned breast surgery.
Unfortunately, no definitive cure exists for lymphedema. Daily therapeutic management of lymphedema can involve wearing compression garments around the affected area, exercises or pumps to stimulate fluid drainage from the area, and wrapping bandages around the affected limbs. Lymphatic therapists can work closely with patients who have lymphedema to provide these non-surgical treatments.
Surgical options for lymphedema treatment include a lymph node transfer, where lymph nodes from the groin are transplanted to the affected area, or a lymphovenous anastamosis, where lymphatic vessels are microsurgically connected to nearby veins in order to increase the amount of fluid drained from the affected area. However, neither of these options are definitive or permanent treatments for lymphedema. In addition, they work best when the lymphedema is still in its early stages.