Venous disease can cause lymph, or lymph can cause lymph disease. The root of the problem is not always clear. No matter the cause, chronic edema can lead to a number of other complications because of the proteins that accumulate in the trapped fluid. This can lead to fibrosis, which is a hardening of the surrounding tissues that makes the drainage process even more difficult. This protein-rich fluid also provides ideal growing conditions for bacteria that lead to infection.

Edema also inhibits blood flow and circulation, which slows the healing process of wounds. It can also be a contributing factor in the further development of venous disorders such as Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI). For patients who already suffer from CVI, lymphedema can make the symptoms and complications associated with this disease worse.