Tummy Tuck with Established UE Lymphedema?

I currently have RUE lymphedema post breast cancer treatment and bilateral hip flap reconstruction (which are beautiful, by the way). I have now redeveloped an umbilical hernia after Davinci hysterectomy/BSO. My question is, with the lymphedema, is it safe to consider a tummy tuck in conjunction with the hernia repair? This would give me a nearly circumferential scar and I worry about the possibility of greatly increasing my lymphedema. Thank you in advance.

Doctor Answers 8

Tummy tuck after upper extremity lymphedema

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Having a tummy tuck should have no affect on your upper extremity lymphedema.  Speak with your surgeon as well.

New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Tummy tuck with ongoing lymphedema

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Anytime you remove tissue, you run the risk of removing some lymph nodes.  Even though the tummy tuck will remove tissue far away from your arms, your lymphatic system may have developed some alternate channels to drain.  Therefore, the risk of worsening your lymphedema is small, but nonetheless present.  Weigh the risks of worsening lymphedema with the benefits of having a flat tummy.  If you're okay with this risk, then you may want to proceed with the tummy tuck.  Otherwise, you may want to hold off. 

UE Lymphedema Not Affected By Tummy Tuck

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Glad to hear you've done so well with your previous surgery.

The lymphedema of your arm will not be affected by going ahead with a tummy tuck.

Remind your doctors and nurses to avoid placing an IV in your arm with the lymphedema.

Paul C. Zwiebel, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

UE lymphedema and tummy tuck

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

A tummy tuck could be performed in an individual with UE lymphedema without concren for aggravating the condition other than obviously avoiding an IV in that arm during the surgical procedure.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Tummy tuck should not worsen upper extremity lymphedema

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

The lymphedema of the upper arm caused by breast cancer treatment is generally the result of changes to the lymphatics in the underarm, whether from surgical treatment of the underarm or radiation therapy.  Tummy tuck should not effect this form of lymphedema, or effect the reconstruction as long as the microvascular flaps were placed away from the abdominoplasty field.

Elizabeth Slass Lee, MD
Bay Area Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Tummy Tuck with Established UE Lymphedema

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Great to hear that you are recovering so well. I agree with the previous expert posters. There is no relationship between these areas. Best of luck from MIAMI, the "real" Dr. Darryl J. Blinski 305 598 0091

Arm lymphedema unrelated to risk with Tummy Tuck

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Hi here-

Because lymphatic drainage from your right arm would not be affected at all by a Tummy Tuck incision, dissection, or recovery, there should be no reason that you could not proceed with your tummy tuck confident your problem would not worsen...

There are precautions that should be attended to (no iv's or blood pressure cuffs on right arm, etc...), but as long as these are managed you should be fine.

Tummy tuck and lymphedema

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

The two conditions are unrelated and there should be no worsening of the upper extremity edema with the tummy tuck. The upper extremity edema is getting around the obstructed lymph nodes via the chest and neck not the abdomen. The presence of the circumferential incision should not impact the upper extremity flow of lymphatic fluid.

I would discuss this with your board certified plastic surgeon at the time of your consultation. Good Luck

Robert W. Kessler, MD, FACS
Corona Del Mar Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 130 reviews

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.