LVA is Effective Treatment for Lymphedema

  • I recently underwent surgical treatment for primary lymphedema in my right leg. The procedure, called LVA (Lymphaticovenous anastomosis) was performed on April 21, 2015 and I’m already seeing a significant improvement in my swelling!

     

    Some Background:

    I'm 30 years old, I was diagnosed with primary lymphedema 11 years ago, manageable for about 8 years with little change, but in that last few, it's gotten worse.

     

    I tried everything from the traditional therapy (massage, pump, bangaging and compression stocking), herbs, acupuncture, diet change, light therapy - the list goes on. I always resisted surgery since I was told by so many therapists and doctors that it could make the condition worse. I finally got to a point where I felt my condition was getting worse anyway so might as well try something drastic.

     

    I met Dr. Wei F. Chen of the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics through a friend. He's one of seven doctors in the US to perform LVA. It's basically where the lymph lines are connected to a vein to allow the lymph fluid to drain via the vascular system. He performed IG lymphography test on me to determine my stage and if I was a candidate, and two months later I did the surgery.

     

    I'm on bed rest now for 3 weeks but can already see a vast improvement. There are bones in my foot I haven't seen in two years poking through!! I’m curious to see if the swelling will change once I’m walking around again – I’m assuming there will be some but my feeling is it will be minimal. I will likely continue to wear a compression garment, which I’m so used to I don’t mind at all.

     

    I HIGHLY recommend anyone with lymphedema to consider LVA.

     

    And I also highly recommend Dr. Wei Chen. He developed his own technique for the surgery that improves the success rate. He’s also incredibly nice, patient and knowledgeable. His staff is equally as impressive. Dr. Chen spent about an hour reviewing the details of the procedure, showing me video and pictures. He was extremely responsive with any questions I had leading up to surgery and following. After the 6hr surgery, he patiently sat with my parents, walking them through the procedure and each incision he made on my leg. I’m due for a 3 month, 6 month and one year follow up and looking forward to each visit, even though it requires out of state travel for me (I live in Florida and Dr. Chen is in Iowa).

    I'm more than happy to share my story and answer questions since I'm so thankful to have finally found some relief to my condition and want as many others as possible to seek the same treatment!

     

    Some links that may be of interest:

    Info on the surgery, written by Dr. Chen: http://www.plasticsurgerypulsenews.com/20/article_dtl.php?QnCategoryID=184&QnArticleID=368&QnCurPage=5

    More on Dr. Chen: https://medcom.uiowa.edu/theloop/patient-care/practicing-with-chicken-thighs

    Here's a post from another Dr. Chen patient: https://community.breastcancer.org/forum/64/topic/81806