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Subject:brachioplasty postmastectomy

Happy to hear you have not experienced a cancer recurrence nor lymphedema.

Having had a mastectomy is not a contraindication to having  surgery. I would suggest  you speak with your surgeon about your concerns.

I think you are asking not if the surgery is feasible, but whether or not having the procedure will cause lymphedema in your post-mastectomy arm.

The answer is  " I do not know".

Lymphedema is an interesting phenomena.  The information below might  help explain why  no one can absolutely  say "Yes, you will develop lymphedema" or "No, you will not develop lymphedema" after brachioplasty.


1. Can develop or become clinically evident as long as 20 years after a surgical procedure even without any known additional insult , surgery , significant weight gain, infection or trauma.

2. Is not just a problem with  plumbing.

3. Occurrence , timing of development and severity of the process is believed to potentially be  influenced by : individual variations in lymphatic  system anatomy and structure,  genetics, medical co-morbidities, concurrent medications, age, gender, confounding / co treatments, past surgeries, inflammation, additional insults, weight, etc. 

Post mastectomy individuals  without lymphedema might have a fully competent lymphatic system or a compromised lymphatic system that is functional under normal demands but  dysfunctional under higher demands for fluid removal. Persons may  harbor subclinical lymphedema . In other words, the lymphedema is extremely mild and basically  invisible to the person or even a trained examiner.  **

Do surgeons ever operate in an area with lymphedema  or at risk for lymphedema?    Yes.

Is body contouring surgery ever associated with the development of lymphedema?  Yes.

in my review of the literature, I could not find a prospective study delineating the frequency of lymphedema development after brachioplasty nor the risk for development of lymphedema with brachioplasty  in a post mastectomy arm.

 Having had a mastectomy is not a contraindication to having  surgery. I would suggest  you speak with your surgeon about your concerns. If you decide to proceed with the procedure, I suggest you coordinate with your surgeon for judicious and diligent post surgical compression and even referral to a lymphedema therapist when you are adequately healed  for assistance with post op care and initiation of preventive care . 

Posted: 20 Jun 2012 09:27 AM
Originally Posted: 20 Jun 2012 09:29 AM
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