Surgery and radiation can damage lymph vessels and lymph nodes leaving survivors with terrible swelling. Sometimes, physical therapy, manual lymph drainage massage techniques and compression can help. Sometimes even these therapies are not enough.
The recent Mayo Clinic newsletter reports that microsurgery involving lymph-vein bypass, where lymph vessels are connected to veins, has been successful in many cases of persistent lymphedema.
Lymph node transfers, or transplants, are also now being done.