Normal Lympathic Vessel Structure and Function
Lymphatic vessels are structures of the lymphatic system that transport fluid away from tissues. Lymphatic vessels are similar to blood vessels, but they don’t carry blood and they are open ended so they can pick up fluid, metabolic waste and inflammatory molecules. The fluid transported by lymphatic vessels is called lymph. Lymph is a clear fluid that comes from blood plasma that exits blood vessels at capillary beds. The lymphatic system of the facial skin consists of an extensive network of lymphatic vessels that surround all blood vessels and weave in between cells. Their main functions are to remove excess fluid, reduce metabolic waste build up and remove all forms of inflammatory molecules — whether they are leaked through damaged rosacea capillaries or produced by inflamed rosacea skin cells. Removal of these pro-inflammatory molecules is crucial because if the lymph vessels don’t function properly the inflammatory cells can set up camp in the facial skin and create chronic inflammation, damage, facial redness and flushing.
In the illustration directly above you can see the red blood vessels (large arteries and small arterioles that carry oxygen and nutrients to the skin cells of the face) and the blue blood vessels (large veins and small venules that carry away de-oxygenated blood to the heart and lungs). Surrounding all these vessels you can see a dense network of lymphatic vessels (in green) that run along side almost all blood vessels and run between clumps of skin cells. These lymph cells are the “regulators” that are so very crucial to controlling and treating rosacea inflammation, symptoms and triggers.
A Key to Rosacea Treatment Resides in the Lymphatic Vessel’s Ability to Engulf and Inactivate Inflammatory Molecules
The open end of lymphatic vessels not only removes water which can lead to rosacea lymphedema, but it engulfs and inactivates all types of inflammatory substances. This is one of the most under-rated and under-appreciated aspects to rosacea treatment — repairing lymph vessels and aiding their proper function. To the right you can view an actual microscopic photo of an open ended lymphatic vessel engulfing two inflammatory immune cells. The lymphatic vessel will use motility (rhythmic movements similar to the intestine) to move inflammatory substances to lymph nodes where they are deactivated and broken down into inert debris. Photo courtesy Pinterest.
What most physicians don’t realize is that many different types of inflammatory cells can build up quickly in the facial skin and overwhelm the lymphatic system –. especially if the lymphatic vessels are damaged — which they often are in rosacea skin. Here is a small sample of some inflammatory cells that lymphatic vessels must remove every second in one small millimeter of inflamed skin.
If there is any delay in removal of these cells they will start attacking healthy skin cells, blood vessels and lymphatic vessels because they falsely believe the facial skin is under attack by micro-organisms, bacteria, viruses, etc.
Damaged Lymphatic Vessels
Lymphatic vessels are thin and fragile so they are prone to physical damage. This is especially true in the case of rosacea skin where inflammatory cells and free radicals can quickly break down lymphatic vessels or render them non-functional. To the right is an illustration of a lymphatic vessel that has been overcome by the sheer number of rosacea inflammatory molecules. These molecules physically broke the lymphatic vessel away from the rest of the vessels, caved in the walls and are now entering the lymphatic vessel’s lumen to break it into tiny pieces and engulf the damaged vessel. In clinical studies, Dr. Plewig, Dr. Kligman and Dr. Wilkin observe this phenomenon in most biopsies of rosacea skin. Often times 70% to 80% of the entire lymphatic system can be damaged or non-functional.
Dr. Katz [Cutaneous Medical Surgery, 2016] details this vicious cycle in a recent medical review article:
“Facial flushing is the main trigger for swelling → it leads to increased movement of water and inflammatory proteins across abnormal blood vessel walls in rosacea skin. Over time, this “spillage” damages and overwhelms the entire lymphatic system.
As the facial swelling and inflammation become chronic, the blood vessels dilate more easily → this increases the intensity of subsequent bouts of flushing → which leads to more facial swelling, inflammation and damage.
Over time inflammatory immune cells accumulate in areas of inflammation → these cells release damaging free radicals and enzymes → resulting in further damage to lymph and blood vessels → worsening both edema, inflammation, facial redness, flushing and lymph vessel destruction.
Can we Fix Physical Damage to Lymph Vessels and Return these Vessels to Normal Functioning?
Yes, we can. Specialized nutraceuticals in Rosadyn+ repair lymphatic vessels and normalize function in many areas of rosacea inflammation. Please read the second article in this series: http://goo.gl/Zej4tH