The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued full guidance to the NHS in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on liposuction for chronic lymphoedema.
Chronic lymphoedema is swelling of the limb caused by a defect in the lymphatic system. This may be a defect that the patient is born with or can result from surgical removal of the lymph glands, such as in surgery for breast cancer. The swelling results from accumulation of lymph fluid and it can cause cosmetic problems, discomfort, pain and limited movement. Liposuction for chronic lymphoedema involves the removal of subcutaneous adipose tissue and accumulated lymph fluid via several small incisions in the limb. After the procedure, the patient wears a compression garment permanently, which can be removed intermittently for short periods.