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Vasa. 2008 Feb;37(1):39-51.

Lymphoedema and lipoedema of the extremities.

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Klinik und Poliklinik für Angiologie, Universitätsklinik Essen, Germany.


Lymphoedema is a clinical manifestation of an impaired lymphatic drainage with accumulation of lymphatic fluid. Lipoedema is characterized by bilateral enlargement of the legs and/or arms due to abnormal deposition of fatty tissue, which accumulates fluid. Conservative treatment including compressions garments and lymphatic drainage is suitable to prevent ongoing clinical deterioration although both diseases cannot be cured. The ability to properly diagnose lymphoedema and lipoedema is crucial to prevent the significant morbidity and loss of quality of life that is associated with this condition. It is imperative that patients with lymphoedema are referred to specially trained healthcare professionals to ensure optimal treatment. Continuous therapy with strict compliance of the patients is essential, and premature interruption is the most frequent mistake. Lipoedema is a different entity but patients are still fighting for acceptance. The mutual relation of lipoedema and obesity and the poor knowledge of the underlying mechanisms limit the acceptance of lipoedema as a relevant disease.

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