New Reconstructive Plastic Surgeon Specializes in Relieving Lymphedema

November 25, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Dr. Roman Skoracki, a new plastic and reconstructive surgeon at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, is one of only a few surgeons in the country performing two breakthrough surgical treatments to relieve lymphedema, a condition characterized by swelling and a feeling of extreme heaviness in the arm and lower extremity that can follow treatment for breast, gynecologic, and colorectal cancers.

A significant number of cancer patients will develop lymphedema after cancer surgery and adjuvant therapies. They often complain of tightness, pain and the inability to wear normal clothing because lymph node fluids accumulates in the affected extremity and can’t drain properly, causing their arms or legs to swell significantly. Skoracki came to Ohio State from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Baylor College of Medicine.

“With his expertise as a microvascular plastic surgeon, Roman offers hope and relief for patients suffering from lymphedema,” said Dr. Michael Miller, chair of the department of plastic surgery at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center. “Roman is one of only a few surgeons nationwide performing two new micro-vascular procedures shown to relieve lymphedema’s painful symptoms by re-routing lymphatic channels to allow proper fluid drainage.”

The lymphovenous bypass involves creating several shunts that connect lymphatic channels to a patient’s existing small blood vessels. This approach involves “supermicrosurgery” to yield more reliable results from previous techniques introduced in the 1970s. It takes advantage of the affected limb’s intact blood vessels, which have a natural ability to remove additional fluid, and relieves the lymph fluid buildup by re-routing it for proper drainage.

The vascularized lymph node transfer is an even more advanced surgical treatment that involves transplanting a small number of healthy lymph nodes, along with their blood supply, from one part of the body to the lymphedema-affected area. Within one to three months, the newly transplanted nodes begin connecting to the surrounding lymphatic channels, helping the excess fluid drain away.

Skoracki earned his medical degree from the University of Calgary in Calgary, Canada and completed his postgraduate training clinical residency in plastic surgery at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada. He also completed a clinical fellowship in microvascular and reconstructive surgery at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

Skoracki received the New Clinical Investigator Award from The Society for Physical Regulation in Biology and Medicine in 2009 and has been named one of the Best Doctors in America by Best Doctors from 2011−2014. He has published almost 60 peer-reviewed manuscripts and three book chapters, along with co-editing the textbook Advanced Therapy of Breast Diseases published in 2012. He also serves as an editorial board member for the Archives of Clinical and Experimental Surgery (ACES) and as a guest reviewer for the Annals of Plastic Surgery.

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute strives to create a cancer-free world by integrating scientific research with excellence in education and patient-centered care, a strategy that leads to better methods of prevention, detection and treatment. Ohio State is one of only 41 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and one of only four centers funded by the NCI to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials. The NCI recently rated Ohio State’s cancer program as “exceptional,” the highest rating given by NCI survey teams. The James, the adult patient-care component of the cancer program, is a “Top Hospital” as named by the Leapfrog Group and one of the top cancer hospitals in the nation as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

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Click here for a high-quality photo of Dr. Roman Skoracki.

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