Risk Factors for Lymphedema after Breast Conservation Therapy and Oncoplastic Reduction

Arvind U. Gowda, James Nie, Elbert Mets, Michael Alperovich, Tomer Avraham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background Lymphedema is a known complication after the surgical management of breast cancer, yet the incidence is poorly defined after breast conserving therapy and oncoplastic reduction. The primary aim of this study was to define lymphedema incidence in this population. Furthermore, we sought to correlate demographic factors, surgical approach, and complementary treatment modalities with incidence. Methods Data were collected retrospectively on patients who underwent breast conserving therapy at our institution from 2012 to 2015 with greater than 1 year of follow-up. Patients were excluded if they underwent breast surgery before treatment, completion mastectomy, delayed breast reconstruction, or delayed breast reduction. Results Five hundred and eighty-four patients met study criteria with a 11% lymphedema rate. Patients developing lymphedema had higher preoperative body mass index (P = 0.02), larger breast mass resection volume (P < 0.01), higher rate of axillary dissection (P < 0.01), increased rate of adjuvant whole-breast radiation (P = 0.03), supraclavicular radiation (P < 0.01), axillary radiation (P < 0.01), and neoadjuvant medical therapy (P < 0.01). Multivariate analysis showed breast specimen mass, axillary radiation, and neoadjuvant medical therapy, which were associated with lymphedema (P < 0.05). There was no difference in lymphedema incidence between partial mastectomy and oncoplastic reduction cohorts with independent multivariate analyses for each showing axillary radiation and neoadjuvant medical therapy were significantly associated with lymphedema (P < 0.05), although breast specimen mass was not. Conclusions Elevated preoperative body mass index, radiation, axillary dissection, and neoadjuvant medical therapy are associated with an increased risk of lymphedema after breast conserving surgery. Oncoplastic reconstruction is not a risk factor for lymphedema.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-252
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Plastic Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • breast conservation
  • lymphedema
  • partial mastectomy


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