Liposuction of postmastectomy arm lymphedema decreases the incidence of erysipelas

D Lee, Neil Piller, M Hoffner, J Manjer, H Brorson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of this study was to assess erysipelas incidence before and after liposuction treatment for patients suffering from post-mastectomy lymphedema. A prospective cohort study of 130 patients at Skåne University Hospital in Malmö, Sweden with postmastectomy arm lymphedema, who had poor outcomes from prior conservative treatment and clinical signs of subcutaneous adipose tissue hypertrophy, underwent liposuction between 1993-2012. Pre- and postoperative incident data on erysipelas were available for all of them. Mean duration of lymphedema prior to liposuction was 8.8 years (range 1-38, standard deviation (SD) 7.0 years). Mean age at liposuction was 63 years (range 39-89, SD 10 years). Total preliposuction observation years were 1147, and total post-liposuction observation years were 983. Erysipelas incidence dropped significantly (p<0.001) from 0.47 attacks/year (range 0-5.0, SD 0.8 attacks/year) to 0.06 attacks/year (range 0-3.0, SD 0.3 attacks/year) after liposuction, a reduction of 87%. Also, compared to 76 patients who experienced at least 1 erysipelas episode preoperatively, only 13 patients experienced erysipelas postoperatively. Of the 54 patients who did not have erysipelas preoperatively, 6 patients had erysipelas postoperatively. The total number of erysipelas attacks observed decreased from 534 to 60 bouts after liposuction. The excess arm volume of 1607 ml (range 570-3950, SD 707) was reduced to -43 ml (range -945 to 1390, SD 379) after 6 months and was maintained during the postoperative follow-up period of, at most, 18 years. Our data suggest that liposuction can significantly reduce incidence of erysipelas in patients with post mastectomy arm lymphedema who prior to the intervention suffered one or more attacks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-92
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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