Testimonials: Lymphedema

This surgery was life-changing for me.

In 2002, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. During that year, I went through chemotherapy, a mastectomy, and radiation treatment. The following year, I was diagnosed with lymphedema in my arm. I was told it was the result of the removal of lymph nodes during the mastectomy. I was devastated to learn that this was an incurable condition that would require lifelong treatment. I engaged in the treatment and the daily maintenance required to manage my lymphedema. However, no matter how careful I was, my arm would become infected multiple times a year. These infections would require several days in the hospital to be treated with intravenous antibiotics.

In 2016, I learned about the potential of lymph node transfer surgery. I was referred to Dr. Ashinoff. He was kind, respectful, and thorough in his explanation of the procedure involved in determining if I would be a candidate for this surgery. He also explained options for breast reconstruction, such as TRAM flap and DIEP flap, that could be completed at the time of the lymph node transfer. This was important to me as I had always opted to not have breast reconstruction for fear of intensifying my lymphedema. For years I had lived with the disfigurement of the mastectomy and the lymphedema. I coped with prosthetics for the mastectomy and compression bandaging, compression sleeves, and daily MLD massage to manage the lymphedema. Clothing choices also were difficult. Necklines needed to be considered to hide the mastectomy along with sleeves to fit the lymphatic arm.

Dr. Ashinoff was careful to explain that the surgery was not a cure for lymphedema but that it could greatly improve the lymph drainage in my affected arm, thus reducing the potential for infections and the need for constant maintenance.

The surgery was conducted in July 2016 by Dr. Ashinoff and Dr. Schneider. In the nine hour surgery, lymph nodes were transferred from my groin to under my arm and breast reconstruction was completed. I was amazed at how little pain I experienced in this process. Eventually, I was able to eliminate the need for daily MLD massage, the size of my lymphatic arm reduced to almost the same size of my non-lymphatic arm, and infections in my lymphatic arm almost have been non-existent. I am also enjoying the benefits of my breast reconstruction. I am now able to wear normal bras and I have a great deal less difficulty with clothing choices.

Dr. Ashinoff and Dr. Schneider were very attentive to my recovery and always responded quickly when I had any concerns. This surgery was life-changing for me. It would not have been possible without the skills and expertise of Dr. Ashinoff and Dr. Schneider. I am very grateful that they have chosen to apply these skills to treat lymphedema.

Jennifer S., Patient of Dr. Ashinoff

Anna’s Story – Lymphedema

Anna was young when she developed melanoma on her leg. Although her surgery was successful, she began struggling with unusual swelling in her right leg. “My leg felt heavy,” Anna recounts and goes on to say that her foot was “three times the size” it was supposed to be. She was suffering from lymphedema: swelling caused by the damage or removal of lymph nodes. Everywhere she turned, she found no answers, until meeting Dr. Ashinoff and Dr. Schneider of The Institute for Advanced Reconstruction of New Jersey who performed a state-of-the-art lymphedema treatment to relieve Anna of both physical and emotional distress.

They are not surgeons; they are miracle workers.

When I was 19, I was diagnosed with cancer in my right leg. I had an operation to remove the cancerous tissue and some lymph nodes. I would have never expected that 6 years after being told I was cancer free I would develop a condition that comes as a side effect from the original surgery.

In April of 2015 my right foot and leg swelled for no apparent reason. The swelling was painful, caused problems with walking and wearing clothes and shoes. I went to an orthopedic, and for months the swelling continued and he had no idea what it was. I decided to visit my original oncologist, who diagnosed me with lymphedema. My family and I never heard of lymphedema, so I researched it and was afraid of the results if left untreated. Lucky for me, my oncologist referred me to Drs. Ashinoff and Schneider of the Institute of Advanced Reconstruction at the Plastic Surgery Center.

From my first visit, I knew I was in good hands. I needed a few tests to evaluate the severity and where the problem with my lymphatic system started and stopped. The results of tested showed I required two different procedures and both of the doctors would operate on me at the same time. They fully explained what they were going to do during the operation, my post surgery hospital stay and my recovery.

At every step of the way, they treated me as if I was their only patient. Their compassion is real and extended to my family as well. I was back to work in 3 weeks and I am getting better everyday. I cannot express the gratitude for what they have done for me and that we were referred to them. They are not surgeons; they are miracle workers.

-Anna Forte

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