The Charles procedure for late-stage lower limb lymphoedema (LLL) is often criticized for its unpredictable and poor results. We have adopted a systematic approach to optimize outcome of patients treated with this excisional surgery.
From June 2004 to March 2009 we performed the Charles procedure on 1 lower limb of 19 women and 8 men with late-stage LLL. Mean age and follow-up was 48 (range, 16.5–77.8) years and 21.6 (range, 1.5–48) months, respectively.
Average inpatient stay was 27 (range, 11–54) days. After discharge, 16 (59.3%) patients underwent further minor surgery. The most frequent complication was a single, short episode of cellulitis, affecting 5 (18.5%) patients. Self-reported mobility was either the same or improved at 6 months, and appearance of their limbs satisfactory.
The Charles procedure is an effective treatment for selected patients and by applying our systematic approach, a positive outcome can be achieved.