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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2015 Jun;135(6):1715-9. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000001271.

Obesity-induced lymphedema: clinical and lymphoscintigraphic features.

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Boston, Mass. From the From the Department of Plastic and Oral Surgery and the Division of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, Department of Radiology, Lymphedema Program, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School.


The purpose of this study was to characterize obesity as a novel cause of lower extremity lymphedema. Fifty-one patients with a body mass index greater than 30 kg/m(2) without any potential cause of lymphedema were evaluated with lymphoscintigraphy. Group 1 patients (n = 33) were at their maximum body mass index; individuals with lymphatic dysfunction had a greater body mass index (72.0 kg/m(2)) compared with subjects with normal function (37.7 kg/m(2)) (p < 0.0001). Body mass index predicted the lymphoscintigram result, which was abnormal if the body mass index was greater than 60 kg/m(2) and normal if it was less than 50 kg/m(2). Group 2 patients (n = 18) had lost weight and were not at their maximum body mass index: patients who reduced their body mass index from greater than 60 kg/m to less than 50 kg/m(2) had normal (n = 4) or abnormal (n = 3) lymphatic function. Patients with obesity-induced lymphedema, or who were at risk for the condition, were referred to a surgical weight loss center.


Risk, III.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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