What is Lipodermatosclerosis and what causes it?
According to the Information Center for Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) lipodermatosclerosis is an inflammatory condition usually affecting the fat layer under the skin of the lower legs.
Other medical terms that are used to describe this illness affecting the skin and connective tissue are sclerosing panniculitis, hypodermitis sclerodermiformis, and stasis panniculitis.
There is no real consensus on what the causes of lipodermatosclerosis are. The disease is often diagnosed in individuals suffering from venous insufficiency and increased blood pressure in the veins.
This illness can present itself in an acute manner without any prior illness or injury or it can develop slowly over time and eventually reach a chronic phase. With the acute form of lipodermatosclerosis, the affected portion of the leg is usually warm, red and tender. It can also be scabby with thickening of the skin.
The chronic presence of lipodermatosclerosis is characterized by pain as well as thickening and hardening of the skin. Other symptoms that can be present are pigmentation, scarring, fluid accumulation (edema), varicose veins and possibly ulcerations of the affected leg.
The common consensus in the medical community seems to be that lipodermatosclerosis is the consequence of long-standing and advanced venous insufficiency (malfunctioning of one or more leg veins due to faulty or damaged valves inside the veins and pooling of blood in these veins, especially when standing).
Treatment Options for Lipodermatosclerosis
Because many individuals suffering from lipodermatosclerosis also seem to have venous conditions such as leaking valves and varicose veins as a result of venous insufficiency, the treatment is often directed at resolving these underlying vein conditions.
Compression therapy can be a central part of the treatment options designed to correct underlying venous problems. This includes particularly compression bandages and wearing compression stockings. Other more invasive treatments can include but may not be limited to weight loss, vein surgery, ultrasound therapy, as well as the use of topical steroids, anti-inflammatories, and pain medications.
Our Special Tip for Ongoing Research and Clinical Trials
The National Institutes of Health, through the National Library of Medicine, developed ClinicalTrials.gov to provide patients, family members, and members of the public with current information on clinical research studies. You can search for clinical trials enrolling participants with lipodermatosclerosis by clicking on the link above and using “lipodermatosclerosis” as your search term.