Lymphedema (or lymphoedema) is a chronic and progressive condition where fluid accumulates in the arm or the leg as a result of damage to lymph nodes and the lymphatic system.
A healthy lymphatic system drains the fluid through lymphatic vessels and lymph nodes (which act as “filters” of the body) through to blood vessels.
Lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels damage can be caused by treatments of an illness like cancer (i.e. breast cancer surgery with removal of several lymph nodes followed by radiotherapy).
Iatrogenic lymphedema is lymphedema resulting from a medical treatment or surgery for an illness.
It is also called secondary lymphedema. It is the most common form of lymphedema.
Lymphedema can also be the result of a malformation of the lymphatic vessels and/or lymph nodes and be congenital. It can appear at birth or during the first years of the life; it often appears at puberty.
Congenital lymphedema results from a malformation of the lymphatic system and is also called primary lymphedema.
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Dr. Becker is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon from Paris, France. She pioneered a surgery treatment for lymphedema called autologous lymph node transfer (ALNT), also known as vascularized lymph node transfer (VLNT), and brought the technique to the US.
ALNT or VLNT
ALNT/VLNT is a microsurgery technique used to treat patients who suffer from lymphedema.
The lymph node transplant technique involves taking a couple of healthy lymph nodes from another part of the body (usually the groin) to replace the damaged lymph nodes.