Lymphedema is a progressive disease that develops in stages. While all four stages listed below have distinct characteristics, please note that they are all continuous.
Stage 0: Latent
Swelling is not always evident in this stage. The stage may exist for months or years before edema becomes visible.
Stage 1: Mild/Reversible
Edema begins to show in this stage. Pitting may occur. This fluid may subside when the limb is elevated.
Stage 2: Moderate/Spontaneously Irreversible
At stage 2, limb elevation is rarely effective in reducing swelling. Pitting can occur as well as possible fibrosis (hardening).
Stage 3: Severe/Elephantiasis
No pitting will be present in this stage. You may see wart-like growths and fat deposits.