The procedure

Lymphovenous bypass, or lymphovenous anastomoses, is an intricate microsurgical procedure for patients with advanced lymphedema. This reconstructive surgery involves the vascular surgeon shunting, or moving, fluid from the lymphatic vessels and veins in the affected limb to nearby, smaller veins, so that the lymph fluid has a new bridge or detour out of the arm or leg. 

Vascular surgeons seek to make between 10 and 15 lymphatic-to-venous connections during a series of short procedures, the goal being to achieve several connections that can remain open long-term.

After the procedure

Although lymphovenous bypass can greatly reduce swelling in the affected limb, most patients will continue to have some swelling after surgery and will continue lymphedema therapy such as compression sleeves and garments, massage techniques, exercise, and lifestyle modifications.