Improvement of Limb Volumes after Bariatric Surgery in Nine End-Stage Primary, Secondary, and Obesity-Induced Lymphedema Patients: A Multiple Case Report

Ad A Hendrickx*, Robert J Damstra, Wim P Krijnen, Cees P van der Schans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: Lymphedema (LE) is a chronic condition of swelling due to lymphatic impairment and is characterized by edema and fibro-adipose tissue deposition. LE may be caused by an anomalous development of the lymphatic system, known as primary LE, or may develop secondary to traumatic, infectious, or other external events. Knowledge is increasing about the plural and bidirectional relationship between LE and obesity. The rate of obesity is increasing worldwide, and bariatric surgery offers the most effective and durable treatment, as this surgery exhibits positive effects on many obesity-related diseases. We explored whether bariatric surgery could improve leg volumes in morbidly obese LE patients. Patients: Between 2013 and 2019, 829 patients were hospitalized in our Center of Expertise for Lymphovascular Medicine for intensive treatment of their LE. Nine patients with end-stage primary, secondary, or obesity-induced LE underwent a bariatric procedure related to their morbid obesity. Methods and Results: Data concerning age, gender, medical diagnosis, LE stage, type of bariatric treatment, body weight, body mass index (BMI), and limb volumes were retrospectively collected from the patient files. At the individual patient level, body weight, BMI, leg volumes, and their percent reduction between presurgery and postsurgery were calculated. At the group level, paired sample t-tests were conducted to compare the mean body weight, BMI, and volumes of both legs between postsurgery and presurgery. The data demonstrate a significant decrease in body weight, BMI, and leg volumes in morbidly obese end-stage primary, secondary, and obesity-induced LE patients following bariatric surgery. Conclusions: Our multiple case study indicates that bariatric surgery provides a good indication for concomitant treatment of morbid obesity and LE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-70
Number of pages7
JournalLymphatic research and biology
Issue number1
Early online date29-Mar-2021
Publication statusPublished - 28-Feb-2022

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