Lymphovenous Anastomosis (LVA) surgery, also known as Lymphovenous Bypass (LVB) surgery is a specialised microsurgical procedure, serving as an innovative solution for addressing lymphoedema - a condition characterised by the accumulation of lymphatic fluid and subsequent swelling.

Understanding Lymphoedema

Lymphoedema arises from impaired lymphatic function, often resulting from cancer treatments that remove or damage lymph nodes, or congenital conditions. Any condition hindering the drainage of lymph fluid has the potential to cause lymphoedema. Symptoms typically encompass swelling of a part or the entire arm, including fingers, as well as swelling of a part or the entire leg, including toes. Individuals may experience a feeling of heaviness or tightness in the arms and legs, along with a reduced ability to move the hands and legs. Aching or discomfort in the affected limbs, increased frequency of infections, and the hardening and thickening of the skin (fibrosis) are also indicative signs.

LVA surgery represents an advanced approach to alleviating the symptoms of lymphoedema by improving lymphatic drainage. For those contemplating Lymphovenous anastomosis surgery as a means of managing lymphoedema, Dr Quan Ngo offers a thorough and patient-centric evaluation to determine the suitability of the procedure for each individual. Drawing upon extensive experience in lymphoedema management, Dr Ngo applies diagnostic expertise to identify and classify the type and severity of lymphoedema, ensuring accurate assessments of the condition.

Stability Assessment

In assessing candidacy, Dr Ngo examines the stability of lymphoedema by delving into the patient's medical history. This scrutiny aims to determine if the condition has reached a stable state, minimising the likelihood of further progression.

Conservative Treatment History

Patients who have undergone conservative treatments for lymphoedema such as compression garments, without significant improvement will find Dr Ngo's expertise valuable. He evaluates the effectiveness of prior treatments, providing insights into the potential benefits of LVA surgery.

Severity Considerations

Acknowledging that LVA surgery is most effective for mild to moderate cases, Dr Ngo meticulously assesses the severity of lymphoedema. Diagnostic examinations may involve multiple tests including circumferential measurements to quantify swelling, bioimpedance analysis, lymphoscintigraphy and MRI through close collaboration with a multidisciplinary team of health professionals. His approach involves tailoring recommendations to align with the specific concerns of each patient.

Overall Health Evaluation

Dr Quan Ngo conducts a comprehensive evaluation of the patient's overall health, ensuring they are in optimal condition to undergo surgery and anaesthesia. Factors such as cardiovascular health and the absence of major medical conditions are carefully considered.

Realistic Expectations Dialogue

Engaging in an open and honest discussion, Dr Ngo addresses realistic outcomes of lymphovenous anastomosis surgery. Patients are educated about the potential benefits and limitations, empowering them to make informed decisions.

Personalised Lifestyle Guidance

Recognising the significance of lifestyle factors, Dr Ngo provides personalised guidance on post-surgery care and maintenance. A commitment to a healthy lifestyle is encouraged to optimise long-term results. Dr Quan Ngo’s approach to evaluating suitability for LVA surgery is characterised by a commitment to comprehensive, patient-centred care. His expertise, coupled with an understanding of each patient's unique circumstances, ensures that individuals receive specific recommendations aligned with their individual needs and goals, allowing him to initiate a roadmap for effective lymphoedema management. 

Aims of Lymphovenous Anastomosis surgery 

Lymphovenous anastomosis surgery is a specialised procedure aimed at addressing the multifaceted challenges posed by lymphoedema.

Improved Lymphatic Drainage

LVA surgery focuses on creating connections (anastomoses) between lymphatic vessels and nearby veins. By establishing these connections, LVA surgery allows excess lymphatic fluid to drain directly into the venous system. This rerouting mechanism provides an alternative pathway for lymphatic fluid to exit tissues more efficiently and helps to reduce the excess lymphatic fluid accumulation, reducing swelling of the affected area.

Symptom Alleviation

Beyond reduction in swelling, LVA surgery aims to enhance overall symptom management. This includes improved mobility, decreased discomfort, and an overall enhancement in the quality of life for individuals grappling with lymphoedema.

Reduction of Recurrent Infections

By enhancing lymphatic drainage, LVA surgery can contribute to a decrease in the frequency of recurrent infections associated with lymphoedema. This not only alleviates symptoms but also promotes better long-term health outcomes.

Tissue Fibrosis Prevention

Preventing or minimising tissue fibrosis is a crucial objective of lymphovenous anastomosis surgery. This helps maintain the natural elasticity of tissues, reducing the progression of lymphoedema-related complications and preserving the overall health of affected areas.

Enhanced Protein Transport

LVA surgery not only improves fluid drainage but also enhances the transport of proteins throughout the body. This contributes to a more balanced and healthy lymphatic environment, addressing multiple aspects of lymphatic system function.

Preservation of Soft Tissues

The procedure aims to preserve the integrity of soft tissues affected by lymphoedema. By mitigating changes such as fat deposition and tissue hardening, LVA surgery contributes to a more natural and aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Improved Wound Healing

Lymphoedema often hinders wound healing due to compromised lymphatic function. LVA surgery seeks to improve wound healing by restoring better lymphatic circulation, thereby reducing healing time and minimising the risk of complications.

Long-Term Maintenance of Results

LVA surgery is designed to offer sustainable, long-term benefits. While multiple sessions may be necessary, the ultimate goal is to establish enduring improvements in lymphatic drainage, symptom alleviation, and overall quality of life.

Minimisation of Surgical Morbidity

As a minimally invasive procedure, lymphovenous anastomosis surgery aims to minimise surgical morbidity. This approach contributes to therapeutic outcomes with less impact on the patient's overall well-being compared to more extensive surgical interventions.

Individualised Treatment Approach

LVA surgery's strength lies in its adaptability to individual cases. Dr Quan Ngo tailors the lymphoedema management plan to address specific anatomical and clinical characteristics, ensuring a personalised treatment approach that considers the unique needs of each patient. Lymphovenous Anastomosis surgery is a comprehensive intervention that goes beyond surface-level symptoms, aiming to address the underlying physiological processes associated with lymphoedema. By combining its various objectives, the procedure seeks to provide a holistic and effective approach to improving the health and well-being of individuals managing this challenging condition.

Lymphovenous Anastamosis Surgical Procedure

Preoperative Planning with Dr Quan Ngo

Dr Quan Ngo initiates the process with an in-depth preoperative planning session. This involves a meticulous review of the patient's medical history, imaging studies, and collaboration with other specialists to develop a tailored surgical approach.

Patient Positioning and Anaesthesia

On the day of surgery, the patient is positioned for optimal access to the targeted lymphatic vessels. Dr Quan Ngo, along with the surgical team, ensures the patient's comfort, and the administration of anaesthesia is carefully managed.

Microsurgical Incision by Dr Quan Ngo

Short incisions are made, usually a few centimetres in length, at the predetermined surgical sites. The use of a high-magnification surgical microscope aids in visualising and working with the delicate lymphatic vessels.

Lymphatic Vessel Identification

With the aid of advanced microsurgical techniques, Dr Quan Ngo identifies the lymphatic vessels within the targeted area. Intraoperative lymphatic mapping may be employed to enhance accuracy in identifying lymphatic vessels.

Creation of Anastomoses by Dr Quan Ngo

Using precision instruments and a surgical microscope, Dr Quan Ngo creates anastomoses between the lymphatic vessels and nearby veins. This delicate process involves the meticulous placement of sutures to establish a functional connection.

Patency Verification

Following anastomosis creation, Dr Quan Ngo verifies the patency of the connections. This ensures that the newly established pathways are open and will facilitate the drainage of excess lymphatic fluid into the venous system.

Real-time Lymphatic Flow Assessment

In certain cases, real-time assessments of lymphatic flow may be conducted during surgery. Dr Quan Ngo may use contrast agents and imaging techniques to visualise the flow of lymphatic fluid, ensuring optimal placement of anastomoses.

Wound Closure and Dressing

Once the anastomoses are secured, Dr Quan Ngo carefully closes the microsurgical incisions. A sterile dressing is applied to the surgical site to promote proper healing and minimise the risk of infection.

Postoperative Monitoring and Imaging

Following surgery, patients are closely monitored for postoperative outcomes. Dr Quan Ngo may utilise imaging studies to visualise lymphatic flow and confirm the success of the surgical intervention.

Postoperative Care Coordination

Dr Quan Ngo coordinates postoperative care, which may include physical therapy, compression therapy, and lifestyle modifications. The comprehensive approach aims to optimise long-term outcomes and patient well-being.

Immediate Postoperative Period

Immediately after lymphovenous anastomosis surgery with Dr Quan Ngo, patients are monitored in a recovery area. The medical team assesses vital signs, ensures postoperative comfort, and addresses any immediate concerns.

Discharge on the Same Day

LVA surgery is often performed as an outpatient procedure, allowing patients to return home on the same day. Dr Quan Ngo provides specific postoperative instructions regarding wound care, activity restrictions, and any prescribed medications.

Recovery Following Lymphovenous Anastomosis Surgery

The recovery process after lymphovenous anastomosis surgery is typically gradual, with specific timelines and expectations varying among individuals.

Initial Days Post-Surgery

The initial days post-surgery may involve some discomfort, swelling, and bruising around the surgical site. Patients are encouraged to rest, keep the surgical area elevated, and follow the recommended guidelines for pain management.

Gradual Reduction in Swelling

Over the following weeks, patients typically experience a gradual reduction in swelling as the lymphatic system begins to function more efficiently. The improvement may continue over several months as the body adjusts to the newly created lymphatic connections.

Return to Normal Activities

Patients are usually encouraged to resume normal daily activities gradually. Light activities such as walking are often recommended initially, with a gradual increase in intensity as tolerated.

Follow-up Appointments

Dr Quan Ngo schedules follow-up appointments to monitor the progress of recovery. These appointments may involve imaging studies to assess lymphatic flow and the effectiveness of the surgical intervention.

Incorporation of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy may be incorporated into the recovery process. Therapists can provide guidance on specific exercises to enhance lymphatic drainage, improve mobility, and optimise overall recovery.

Compression Garments

The use of compression garments are recommended to support the healing process. These garments help reduce swelling, promote circulation, and provide support to the treated area.

Gradual Resumption of Exercise

Patients can gradually resume more strenuous exercise activities based on Dr Quan Ngo's guidance. However, it's essential to avoid excessive strain on the surgical site during the initial stages of recovery.

Long-Term Maintenance

LVA surgery is often part of a long-term management plan for lymphoedema. Patients may continue to experience improvements in lymphatic drainage over time, and periodic follow-up appointments with Dr Quan Ngo are essential for ongoing monitoring.

Individual Variations in Recovery

Individual variations in recovery timelines are common. Factors such as overall health, the severity of lymphoedema, and adherence to postoperative care instructions can influence the pace of recovery.

In summary, the recovery process after lymphovenous anastomosis surgery is a gradual journey that involves close collaboration with Dr Quan Ngo and the multidisciplinary healthcare team. While improvements are often seen in the early postoperative period, continued progress and long-term benefits are part of the ongoing recovery process for individuals managing lymphoedema through LVA surgery.

Risks of Lymphovenous Anastomosis Surgery

While lymphovenous anastomosis surgery is generally considered a safe and effective procedure, like any surgical intervention, it is associated with potential risks and complications. It is important for patients to be aware of these risks before undergoing the surgery. The potential risks of LVA surgery include:


Any surgical procedure carries a risk of infection. Although LVA surgery is minimally invasive, there is a potential for infection at the incision sites. Strict adherence to postoperative care instructions helps to mitigate this risk.

Haematoma and Bruising

Patients may experience haematoma (collection of blood outside blood vessels) or bruising around the surgical site. This is a common side effect of surgery but usually resolves with time.

Lymphatic Leakage

Lymphatic leakage may occur, leading to lymphorrhoea. This can manifest as fluid accumulation or drainage at the surgical site. This is a very rare complication.

Nerve Injury

There is a slight risk of nerve injury during surgery, leading to temporary or, in rare cases, permanent sensory changes in the surrounding areas. The use of microsurgical techniques helps minimise this risk.

Thrombosis (Blood Clot Formation)

The creation of anastomoses between lymphatic vessels and veins poses a minimal risk of thrombosis. Patients are often encouraged to maintain mobility and adhere to any prescribed measures to prevent blood clot formation.

Scar Tissue Formation

Scar tissue may form at the incision sites. While this is a natural part of the healing process, excessive scar tissue could potentially impact lymphatic flow. Physical therapy and massage may be recommended to manage and prevent excessive scarring.

Failure of Anastomoses

In some cases, the anastomoses created during surgery may not function as intended. This could result in a suboptimal improvement in lymphatic drainage. Dr Quan Ngo carefully assesses the success of the procedure during follow-up appointments.

Suboptimal Results

While LVA surgery often provides significant improvements, individual responses can vary. Some patients may experience more modest results or may require additional sessions to achieve optimal outcomes.

Allergic Reaction

While rare, there is a minimal risk of an allergic reaction to surgical materials or medications used during the procedure. Patients are typically screened for allergies before surgery to minimise this risk.

Persistent Swelling or Recurrence

In some cases, patients may continue to experience persistent swelling or a recurrence of lymphoedema symptoms despite LVA surgery. This could be influenced by factors such as disease progression or individual variability in response to the intervention. It is essential for patients to have a thorough discussion with Dr Ngo before undergoing LVA surgery. This includes a detailed review of the potential risks, the likelihood of occurrence, and the steps taken to minimise and manage these risks. While complications are relatively uncommon, being well-informed allows patients to make informed decisions and actively participate in their postoperative care.

Research and Advancements in Lymphovenous Anastomosis Surgery with Dr Quan Ngo

Dr Quan Ngo, as a surgical founder of the Australian Lymphoedema Education, Research and Treatment Program (ALERT) at Macquarie University Hospital in Sydney, is actively engaged in ongoing research and advancements in LVA surgery. Innovations, such as the integration of fluorescence imaging or robotic-assisted surgery, continue to enhance the precision and patient outcomes of the procedure.


Lymphovenous Anastomosis (LVA) surgery, led by Dr Quan Ngo at ALERT at Macquarie University Hospital, offers a potential solution for individuals dealing with lymphoedema. This microsurgical procedure aims to improve lymphatic drainage and alleviate symptoms, reflecting a commitment to personalised patient care. Under Dr Ngo's guidance, from careful preoperative planning to attentive postoperative monitoring, patients benefit from a tailored approach that prioritises holistic patient care and microsurgical expertise. While acknowledging the potential risks inherent in any surgical procedure, Dr Ngo's dedication to safety and effective communication ensures that patients are well-informed and actively engaged in their recovery. Beyond the surgical intervention, the journey with LVA surgery involves a gradual recovery process and the potential for sustained improvements in lymphatic function.