Lymphedema treatment pioneer David Chang, MD, joins plastic and reconstructive team at the University of Chicago Medicine

Lymphedema treatment pioneer David Chang, MD, joins plastic and reconstructive team at the University of Chicago Medicine

October 11, 2013

David W. Chang, MD, FACS, a leading authority on surgical treatment of lymphedema, has been appointed professor of surgery at the University of Chicago Medicine, effective Sept. 11, 2013.

Chang has been a key player in introducing lymphaticovenular bypass, a novel treatment for lymphedema, to U.S. operating rooms. He is one of a few surgeons in the country, and the only one in Illinois, who performs it routinely.

As many as 25 to 30 percent of women who have breast cancer surgery with lymph node removal and radiation therapy develop lymphedema, a disorder in which lymph fluid accumulates, leading to chronic swelling in the upper arm. There is no cure.

A lymphaticovenular bypass helps relieve the problem by allowing excess fluid to drain into nearby blood vessels. Surgeons, working under the microscope, use minute instruments to connect blocked lymphatic vessels -- as small as 0.3 mm in diameter -- to a nearby vein.

Chang, 52, comes to the University of Chicago from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where he was a professor of plastic surgery, deputy chair of the department, and director of the plastic surgery clinic and the center for microsurgery research and education. He also held adjunct teaching roles at Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University, both in Houston.

Chang has published nearly 100 original research articles, about 60 review articles and book chapters, and 100 research abstracts, primarily focused on breast reconstruction, lymphedema and microsurgery. He has been named a best doctor or top surgeon by various publications.

He is a member of the editorial boards of several of the field's leading journals. He has lectured throughout the United States, Europe, South America and Asia, and participated in humanitarian missions to Sierra Leone, Kenya, Gabon, Haiti, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Peru and North Korea. In addition to teaching, he has served as a faculty mentor for medical students, residents, and clinical and research fellows.

Chang earned his undergraduate degree in molecular biology and biochemistry with honors in 1983 and his medical degree in 1987 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He completed his general surgery residency at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1991, followed by a residency in plastic and reconstructive surgery in 1993 at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

He then did a fellowship in microsurgery and hand surgery at California Pacific Medical Center's microsurgical replantation transplantation service in San Francisco. After two years as an instructor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, he joined the faculty at MD Anderson in 1998.