of Vascular Disease
Lipodermatosclerosis (LDS) is a condition that affects
the skin just above the ankle in patients with long-standing venous disease
resulting in chronic venous insufficiency. LDS literally means "scarring of
the skin and fat" and is a slow process that occurs over a number of
years. LDS affects the skin just above the ankle, usually on the inside
surface. Over time the skin becomes brown, smooth, tight and often
painful. The precise mechanism of LDS is not fully understood, but the
root cause is known. LDS is caused by an excessively high venous pressure
in the subcutaneous veins in the lower leg. This high venous pressure is
the result of two things
inefficient calf muscle pump
LDS is a warning sign!!
Unless the underlying cause of the LDS is treated then the patient is at high
risk of developing a painful and potentially chronic venous
leg ulcer. Once LDS is established, the skin has been permanently and
irreversibly damaged and treatment at that stage can only hope to prevent
progression of the LDS to an open leg ulcer. A patient with LDS warrants
referral to a vascular surgical clinic for full assessment of the venous system.
The mainstay of treatment of LDS is the use of compression
socks. These are designed to exert a greater pressure on the skin at
the ankle and less pressure on the calf. The pressure exerted by the socks
helps to counteract the excess pressure in the veins that is the result of
standing and walking. However, the compression socks do not cure the
underlying problem and once prescribed they normally have to be worn for life.
the LDS is partially or wholly the result of severe varicose veins then surgery
to remove the abnormal veins does at least offer the potential for cure.