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Ann Plast Surg. 2014 Oct;73(4):365-70. doi: 10.1097/SAP.0b013e31827fb44c.

The influence of preexisting lower extremity edema and venous stasis disease on body contouring outcomes.

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From the *Department of Plastic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; †Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Colorado; and ‡Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of General Surgery, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY. This paper was presented as a poster on September 27, 2012 at the Northeastern Society of Plastic Surgery in Boston, Massachusetts.



While a cause and effect relationship is traditionally thought to exist between thigh surgery and postoperative lymphedema, the link between obesity-related lymphatic and/or venous disease and post-body contouring lower extremity edema has not been investigated. We hypothesize that patients who experience prolonged lower extremity edema following thigh surgery are predisposed to developing this complication due to unrecognized preoperative lymphovascular disease.


Fifty-five patients who had undergone body contouring surgery were identified from our prospective registry. Twenty-eight patients completed the Venous Clinical Severity Score (VCSS), a validated outcome measure of venous disease. Three time points were assessed: pre-weight loss (T1), post-weight loss but pre-body contouring (T2), and post-body contouring (T3). Based on T3 VCSS, patients were divided into 2 groups-a T3 VCSS ≤3 (group 1; N = 13) and a T3 VCSS ≥4 (group 2; N = 15).


VCSS for group 1 at T1, T2, and T3 were 3.31 ± 0.55, 1.85 ± 0.27, and 1.54 ± 0.35 (mean ± SEM), respectively, versus 6.3 ± 1.10, 4.33 ± 0.8, and 6.8 ± 0.63 for group 2 (P < 0.05, P < 0.05, and P < 0.0001). Pain scores at T1 was 0.46 ± 0.21 for group 1 versus 1.1 ± 0.24 for group 2 (P < 0.05). Edema scores for group 1 at T1, T2, and T3 were 0.69 ± 0.29, 0.08 ± 0.08, and 0.15 ± 0.10 versus 1.87 ± 0.35, 1.13 ± 0.31, and 2.13 ± 0.24 for group 2 (P < 0.05, P < 0.001, and P < 0.0001, respectively).


Using VCSS, post-bariatric patients with prolonged lower extremity edema experienced clinically identifiable signs of disease prior to weight loss and body contouring surgery. Thus, careful preoperative evaluation may help identify at-risk patients and aid in managing postoperative expectations.

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