Lower Face Lift with RUE Lymphedema Post-BC

I have mild lymphedema (Stage 0) in my right arm post-breast cancer surgery (mastectomy, DIEP flap reconstruction). I've lost a bit of weight, which has worsened by hereditary turkey neck. I am considering a lower face lift or neck lift but am concerned about the impact to my lymphatic system. What are the risks for patients in my situation? Would a direct neck lift be a better option to address neck laxity, understanding its limited results?

Doctor Answers 4

Facelift and Upper Extremity Lymphedema?

The lymph node system that is involved with upper extremity lymphedema (axillary or armpit nodes) is not the lymph system that drains the head and neck area, so they are really two separate areas of lymph drainage. Thus any facelift procedure should not adversely affect your lymphedema issue. During your surgical procedure you will be getting intravenous fluids which will distribute throughout your body. Therefore it might be possible that you could experience some transient swelling in the involved upper extremity but it should not result in a chronic problem. Of course other precautions such as not placing your IV in the involved extremity would also be important in preventing any problems.

Facelift terminology is very confusing and different surgeons mean different things dwhile using the same terms. It sounds like your primary area of concern is your neck. Typically the neck correction would be included as part of a lower facelift procedure. If your neck needs a lot of improvement then potentially you may need to have an incision under your chin for fat removal and repair of the platysma muscle. This not something that is done in all patients and is really determined by an in person examination of your neck. I have done direct neck lifts in past but have not been happy with the overall results which simply do not compare to a well done standard face/neck lift.

Arm lymphedema and neck lift

There is no connection between arm lymphedema (as a consequence of breast tumor and lymph node removal) and aesthetic neck/face lift surgery. Lymph nodes in the neck are not affected with neck lift surgery and lymphedema is not expected after this surgery. You can safely plan your facial rejuvenation surgery (neck, lower face or full neck/face lift) without any concerns about lymphedema. Good luck.

Zoran Potparic, MD
Fort Lauderdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Lower facelift candidate

Mild lymphedema of the arm after breast cancer surgery should not affect the healing process for a lower face and neck lift. The goals of a lower face and neck lift are to improve the turkey neck by tightening loose facial and neck skin, tightening loose facial and neck muscles, lift the jowls and remove the fatty deposits in the neck. It is very important to obtain a natural result, so choose your surgeon very wisely based on extensive experience. Anticipate visible bruising and swelling for two weeks after the surgery. For more information and many before-and-after facelift results, please see link and the video below

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 126 reviews

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Facelift and arm edema aren't related

Fortunately, you don't need to be concerned about a significant lymphatic relationship between the face and the arm. Unless you had radiation treatments that involved the collar bone and neck, there shouldn't be any reason not to proceed with a properly done facelift. Especially as the scars from a direct neck lift are really bad.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.