Explaining Lipodermatosclerosis

Vein doctors

Lipodermatosclerosis is an uncommon condition in patients experiencing chronic long-term venous disease. At Central Florida Vein and Vascular Center, we offer conservative management options and minimally invasive procedures to help improve blood flow in your legs to reduce symptoms.

What Is Lipodermatosclerosis?

Lipodermatosclerosis occurs when blood begins to pool in the veins in the lower legs, leading to increased pressure and fluid leaking behind the skin’s surface. The increased pressure and fluid can result in ongoing inflammation of the fat and surrounding tissues, which causes the tissues of the inside of the calf above the ankle to become hardened, discolored and scarred.

What Causes Lipodermatosclerosis?

The exact cause of lipodermatosclerosis is unknown, but many doctors believe it results from raised pressure in the leg veins, which can lead to the underlying skin becoming inflamed. Another potential cause is a lack of oxygen and nutrients in the tissues.

A patient with lipodermatosclerosis may experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the legs
  • Swollen legs
  • Hardening or discoloration of the skin

How to Diagnose & Treat Lipodermatosclerosis

Our doctors will first establish if there is any history of skin issues or relevant medical concerns, such as thrombosis or leg injuries. We may also consider other health concerns such as heart failure, liver disease and varicose veins.

Another point of consideration is if you are experiencing any skin irritation, dryness or dilated veins. It is also essential for us to know if the leg feels itchy and if anything helps relieve symptoms or makes them worse.

Reversing lipodermatosclerosis can be difficult once the symptoms become apparent. The sooner a patient receives treatment to correct underlying vein and circulation issues, the more likely they are to prevent permanent damage. Treatment for lipodermatosclerosis focuses on increasing patient comfort while improving the legs’ function to prevent the condition from progressing into an ulcer.

A patient may find temporary relief with compression therapy, but further treatment is essential to stop the condition from becoming worse. Two treatments that Central Florida Vein and Vascular Center provide include:

  • Endovenous laser treatment: During this treatment option, our vascular surgeons will assess your venous health with a diagnostic ultrasound before inserting a small catheter to seal and treat the vein.
  • Sclerotherapy treatment: Our minimally invasive procedure will find the affected vein, and we’ll insert a sclerosing agent to collapse and remove the vein without creating scars or other skin conditions.
  • VenaSeal: During a VenaSeal procedure, one of our vascular surgeons will deliver a small amount of medical adhesive to seal shut the diseased vein and reroute the blood to healthier veins.
  • Varithena: With this minimally invasive procedure, one of our vascular surgeons will inject a microfoam into the diseased vein, which causes it to collapse and the blood to flow to healthier veins.

Is Lipodermatosclerosis Dangerous?

While lipodermatosclerosis is not life-threatening, it can increase a patient’s risk of developing venous leg ulcers the longer it remains untreated. Acute lipodermatosclerosis can cause painful purple hard plaques on the skin, while chronic conditions can result in a tapering of the legs that resembles an inverted champagne bottle.

Lipodermatosclerosis vs. Cellulitis

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection that can result in the skin becoming hot, tender or swollen. While cellulitis can occur throughout the body, it is most common on the lower legs. Lipodermatosclerosis is often mistaken for cellulitis and vice versa due to their similar coloring and symptoms. However, cellulitis often shows systematic symptoms and signs of infection.

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Schedule an Appointment With Us Today

Central Florida Vein and Vascular Center offers high-level medical care to increase patient care and comfort. Our minimally invasive procedures will help treat your symptoms of lipodermatosclerosis without creating additional scarring. To learn more about your treatment options, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at our office today!

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