What are the differences between lymph and fat ?
What is lymph ?
Lymph is the whitish fluid that circulates in the vessels of the lymphatic system. It is made up of white blood cells (especially lymphocytes), waste and nutrients. The lymph circulates in the network of lymphatic vessels, parallel to the blood vessels network.
What is the lymph used for?
The lymph drains and purifies cellular waste. It also plays an essential role in the proper functioning of the immune system, in the event of infection for example. It ensures the microbial antigens transport from infected tissues to the lymph nodes. These activate the proliferation of lymphocytes which produce antibodies, causing the lymph nodes swelling. Lymph circulates by moving these lymphocytes to the site of infection through the network of lymphatic vessels.
Differences between lymph and fat (lipœdema)
Unlike lymph, fat does not circulate. It accumulates. Fat cells form yellow adipose tissue. In the case of lipœdema, excess fat accumulates in the affected limbs (lower limbs and arms) and does not disappear with daily sport activity or with a special diet. This unusual excess fat presents as a legs and arms swelling.
In lymphœdema, the lymph vessels no longer drain lymph efficiently enough. Therefore, lymph accumulates in the tissues under the skin causing a swelling in one leg or one arm, unlike lipœdema which shows symmetry in the swelling of the affected limbs. Unilateral swelling is therefore a sign of lymphœdema.
In the very advanced stages of lipœdema, the disease can develop into lipolymphœdema. Then, the lymphatic system bilaterally dysfunctions.
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