Lymphatic stasis is a lymph circulation disorder that leads to oedema. Lymph is a tissue fluid that is discharged from cells through the lymphatic vessels. It is a liquid rich in protein and toxins. Its deposition in the subcutaneous tissue may lead to the development of inflammation, and at a later stage – tissue distortions and excessive keratinization of the epidermis. Lymphatic stasis may appear in a variety of locations. Lymph oedemas of limbs are frequently encountered, as well as lymphatic stasis on the face (especially under the eyes). Women after mastectomy also experience lymphedema.
The causes of lymphatic stasis are varied – sometimes they are innate and are a consequence of improper development of lymphatic vessels or lymph nodes. In turn, acquired lymphatic stasis may be the result of:
- sedentary lifestyle
- mechanical injuries
- lymphatic damage
- breast removal surgery – lymphatic stasis after mastectomy is a consequence of axillary lymph nodes removal, which prevents the outflow of lymph from the hand; swelling may appear immediately after breast removal surgery, but also many months later
- connective tissue diseases
- bacterial infections
- chronic venous insufficiency
- parasitic diseases
Lymphedema located on the lower or upper limbs may limit its mobility. Initially, lymphatic stasis appears during the day, with time – they are noticeable from the morning. The skin becomes hard and keratinized, additionally orange skin appears. Lymphatic stasis may also be accompanied by nails appearance changes, which become brittle and fragile, with a yellowish shade. The complication of persistent lymphedema can be lymphangitis, as well as bacterial and fungal infections.