Lipodermatosclerosis & Venous Insufficiency

What is lipodermatosclerosis?

Lipodermatosclerosis is a disease that causes inflammation of the subcutaneous fat in the lower legs. It can affect either one or both legs, and patients often notice pain and swelling in the lower leg just above the ankle as the first symptom of the disease. Initially, in its acute phase, lipodermatosclerosis may resemble cellulitis. Unlike cellulitis, which is a bacterial infection, lipodermatosclerosis is a skin and connective tissue disease and won’t cause a fever or other symptoms of a serious infection in the patient.


What are the symptoms?

As the disease progresses and becomes chronic, symptoms may also include hardening or thickening of the skin, redness, increased pigmentation, small white scars, and increased fluid in the legs. The patient’s legs will often resemble upside-down champagne bottles, with a visible swelling of the lower leg that cuts off right above the ankle. Pain may range from mild to severe, depending on how far the disease has progressed.

What causes lipodermatosclerosis?

Lipodermatosclerosis is often associated with chronic venous insufficiency and varicose veins, though the exact cause of lipodermatosclerosis is not yet fully understood. Lipodermatosclerosis may occur in its acute phase before signs of venous disease become apparent, though venous insufficiency is often eventually diagnosed. A significant portion of patients who are diagnosed with lipodermatosclerosis are obese. Patients are also often middle-aged, and the disease is more common in women than in men.


Once cellulitis is ruled out, lipodermatosclerosis is usually clinically diagnosed based on its physical presentation. Fibrous areas between the subcutaneous fat and skin will appear in early cases, and as the disease progresses the fibrous zones will increase in size. Ultrasound scans and MRI testing may be used to figure out how far the disease has progressed, and whether the patient is eligible for surgical treatment.

How is it treated?

Since it’s associated with venous insufficiency, treating the symptoms of venous diseases will often lead to the alleviation of lipodermatosclerosis. Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious, lipodermatosclerosis is often successfully treated with compression therapy and leg elevation in early stages and in more difficult cases, ClariVein ablation, RF ablation or a combination of therapies are used to combat lipodermatosclerosis.

If you’re experiencing symptoms such as swelling, itching, discoloration, pain, or heaviness in your legs, it’s important to see a qualified vein specialist to find the root cause of your symptoms. Dr. Kaveh has spent years treating patients in Las Vegas for varicose veins and venous insufficiency sypmtoms. Call (702) 233-1849 to learn more about varicose vein treatment options near you!