Current Environment:

The Lymphedema Program was established in the Department of Plastic and Oral Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital in 2008. The program is directed by Arin Greene, MD, and its mission is to improve the lives of patients with lymphedema through clinical care, research, and education. As of 2022, about 800 new patients have been treated, and one-third are national or international referrals. The program manages both children and adults with the condition. The interdisciplinary management team includes plastic surgery, general surgery, nuclear medicine, interventional radiology, hematology/oncology, genetics, static compression, and pneumatic compression.

Several students and fellows have trained in the program and are now caring for patients with lymphedema throughout the United States. The program has produced a textbook, 34 research publications, and 33 book chapters/reviews on lymphedema.

Highlights of innovations accomplished through the program include:

  • the largest initial experience using liposuction for lymphedema in the United States (2016), showing that liposuction can improve lymphatic function (New England Journal of Medicine)
  • guidelines for the diagnosis, classification, and management of primary lymphedema
  • establishment of an evidence-based protocol for the diagnosis of lymphedema using lymphoscintigraphy
  • the discovery that extreme obesity can cause lymphedema (obesity-induced lymphedema) (New England Journal of Medicine)
  • guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of obesity-induced lymphedema
  • the identification of three somatic mutations responsible for primary lymphedema (EPHB4, CELSR1, KRAS).
  • In 2020, our Lymphedema Program partnered with the Lymphedema Program at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to form The Boston Lymphatic Center, which was named a Comprehensive Center of Excellence by the Lymphatic Education and Research Network.