Lymphedema Leads to Fat Deposition in Muscle and Decreased Muscle/Water Volume After Liposuction: A Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Lymphedema leads to adipose tissue deposition. Water-fat magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can quantify and localize fat and water. The presence of excess fat and excess water/muscle in the subfascial compartment of the lymphedematous limb has not been investigated before. The aim of this study was to investigate epifascial and subfascial fat and water contents in patients with chronic lymphedema before and after liposuction.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Seven patients with arm lymphedema and six with leg lymphedema were operated on. The limbs were examined with water-fat MRI before liposuction (baseline) and at five time points. Complete reduction of the excess limb volumes was achieved. The excess epifascial fat was evident in the edematous limbs and a drop was seen following surgery. There were differences in excess water at all time points. At 1 year there was a decrease in excess water. Excess subfascial fat was seen in the edematous limbs at all time points. Subfascial excess water/muscle did not show any differences after surgery. However, starting from 3 months there was less subfascial water/muscle compared with baseline.

CONCLUSIONS: Subfascial fat in the lymphedematous limbs did not change. In contrast, the water in the subfascial compartment was reduced over time, which may represent a decrease of muscle volume after treatment due to less mechanical load after liposuction. Using water-fat MRI-based fat quantification, the fat and water contents may be quantified and localized in the various compartments in lymphedema.


External organisations
  • Blekinge Hospital
  • Skåne University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Surgery


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-181
Number of pages8
JournalLymphatic Research and Biology
Issue number2
Early online date2017 Sep 28
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Apr 1
Publication categoryResearch

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