Lipodermatosclerosis: a clinicopathologic correlation

Int J Dermatol. 2016 Mar;55(3):303-8. doi: 10.1111/ijd.12856. Epub 2015 Aug 14.


Background: Lipodermatosclerosis (LDS) is a chronic fibrosing panniculitis associated with venous insufficiency. Although LDS is often a clinical diagnosis, it can be confused with other panniculitides. Microscopic examination is therefore essential to support the diagnosis in this condition. Histopathologic changes, however, have not been extensively defined. The purpose of this study was to characterize the histopathologic spectrum of this condition correlated with clinical manifestation.

Methods: A total of 25 cases were collected retrospectively, and the clinical information and histopathologic findings were reviewed.

Results: Of 25 patients, the female to male ratio was 4 : 1. The mean age was 54 years (range, 31-74 years). Clinical features were acute in eight (32%), subacute in 12 (48%), and chronic in five (20%). The microscopic study mostly demonstrated vascular stasis changes of varying degrees depending on the age of the lesion. Adipocyte necrosis with thickened septa, extravasation of erythrocytes, and lymphocytic infiltration were major findings in the early lesions. In the chronic lesion, lipomembranous fat necrosis with microcyst formation, vascular stasis changes in subcutaneous tissue, and septal fibrosis were predominant features. Iron deposition or hemosiderin extending to the subcutaneous layer was always seen in all specimens at the subacute and chronic stages.

Conclusion: The diagnosis of LDS still needs clinicopathologic correlation. The constellation of findings including septal fibrosis, lipomembranous fat necrosis, prominent vascular changes of stasis, and erythrocytic extravasation can be used to define LDS histopathologically. Interestingly, iron deposition in the subcutaneous tissue is a useful finding for this chronic condition.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adipocytes / pathology*
  • Adipose Tissue / pathology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cysts / pathology
  • Dermatitis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Dermatitis / metabolism
  • Dermatitis / pathology*
  • Erythrocytes
  • Female
  • Hemosiderin / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Male
  • Microscopy
  • Middle Aged
  • Necrosis / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Scleroderma, Localized / diagnostic imaging*
  • Scleroderma, Localized / metabolism
  • Scleroderma, Localized / pathology*
  • Skin Diseases, Vascular / etiology
  • Skin Diseases, Vascular / pathology


  • Hemosiderin
  • Iron

Supplementary concepts

  • Lipodermatosclerosis