What are early signs and symptoms of lymphedema?

Updated: Mar 24, 2021
  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Answer

The earliest symptom of lymphedema is nontender, pitting edema of the affected area, most commonly in the distal extremities. The face, trunk, and genitalia also may be involved. Radial enlargement of the area occurs over time, progressing to a nonpitting edema resulting from the development of fibrosis in the subcutaneous fat.

Involvement of the distal extremities is followed by proximal advancement. Patients have erythema of the affected area and thickening of the skin, which appears as peau d'orange skin and woody edema.


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