Breast Surgery and Lymphedema

Breast surgery is not without certain risk. A recent industry article online attempted to explain the occurrence of lymphedema following breast surgery.  According to the article the lymphatic system is an exceptional component of the immune system and protects the body from alien substances. It is abstruse and includes a comprehensive system of lymph vessels. In an amply operative lymphatic system, excess fluid that is accumulated from space between tissues moves through the lymph vessels and the lymph system as the vessels are compressed by adjacent muscles. The lymph nodes serve as the filters and eject the bacteria, waste, and debris. The fluid is then depleted into the bloodstream. Breast surgery affects the lymph nodes.  With lymphedema, an abnormal accumulation of fluid happens. This accumulation of fluid causes swelling or lymphedema. There are two types of lymphedema: primary and secondary. Secondary lymphedema happens when there is a blockage or breach of the lymph fluid which can be caused by breast surgery.

Breast Surgery and Complications

Breast surgery complications should be understood prior to surgery. People may experience lymphedema after lumpectomy, mastectomy, or modified radical mastectomy with axillary node subdivision and/or radiation to a lymph node region. Lymphedema can also occur following  breast surgeries including breast augmentation or breast reduction, as this surgery can also distress the lymphatic vessel pathways. Lymphedema can develop almost directly after breast surgery or even years later. Some swelling may occur in the first few weeks after surgery, and that is customary.

Breast surgery and Treating Lymphedema

Lymphedema is a concern for any qualified plastic surgeon performing surgery. The key is to prevent complications and reduce risk with both cosmetic breast surgery and reconstructive breast surgery. Dr. Seify values his breast surgery consultations with his patients as it gives him the opportunity to further explain and discuss many of the concerns patients have prior to breast surgery. Whether the surgery is a breast revision surgery, new breast augmentation, breast implant exchange, breast reconstruction, breast reduction, or breast lift, patients are often overwhelmed with both information and warnings of risk and complications. It is not uncommon for patients to be concerned about the necessity for drains. It is advisable for patients to understand the surgeon’s discretion in using drains following surgery. The primary goal is to assure that the patient will not develop lymphedema and have excessive and uncomfortable swelling. Dr. Seify is careful to explain to patients if there may be a need to use drains and the motivation behind that decision. Dr Seify is also able to treat lymphedema by a protocol of compression,lymphatic drainage and later surgery if needed. Dr Seify’s patients trust his expertise and are assured that patient safety, and the best patient experience go hand-in-hand.


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