Lower leg lymphedema is an important complication after gynecological treatment that can severely affect the quality of life of long-term survivors of these malignancies. As a chronic and progressive disease, affected patients will require life-long therapy centered on compression. Although conventional compressive treatments can be effective, they are extremely burdensome and time-consuming for most patients and adherence is challenging.

With advances in the field of reconstructive microsurgery, new procedures have been developed in the past decades to help these patients in their continuous care and have been offered at many oncological centers around the world as a first line of treatment. We performed a PubMed search using the Mesh terms ‘Lymphedema/surgery’ and ‘Lower extremity’ yielding a total of 508 articles. Of these, 35 articles were included for analysis. Articles that failed to provide a comprehensive analysis of outcomes following surgical treatment, studies examining treatment for upper limb lymphedema, primary lymphedema, or lower extremity lymphedema resulting from non-gynecologic etiologies, and studies that failed to have a minimum of 6 months follow-up were excluded.

A comprehensive review of these 35 articles including over 1200 patients demonstrated large variability on the outcomes reported; however, an overall benefit from these procedures was found. Surgical options including lymphovenous anastomosis, vascularized lymph node transfers, and excisional procedures can be performed in patients with lower leg lymphedema, depending on staging and findings in indocyanine green lymphography. Surgical treatment of lymphedema is an effective option that can improve symptoms and quality of life of patients suffering from lymphedema following gynecologic cancers.


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