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Types of Lipodystrophy & its Treatment

What is Lipodystrophy?

Lipodystrophy is a pathological condition in which there abnormal loss of fat from the body. The layer of fat is present subcutaneously that is just underneath the skin. As the body loses fat from the body the structures lying underneath the layer of fat which are the muscles and bone to become more prominent in such a way that the appearance of the skin resembles that of crests and troughs. There are different types of Lipodystrophy. It can be congenital or acquired. Lipodystrophy can be complete that is all the structures get affected or partial that is only some structures get affected. The various forms of Lipodystrophy are mentioned in detail below.

What is Lipodystrophy?

What are the Types of Lipodystrophy?

As stated above, Lipodystrophy can be acquired or congenital.

Acquired Lipodystrophy: This being the most common form of Lipodystrophy, it is caused by the following:

Injections: Lipodystrophy is most common at injection sites. This may be the site of a steroid injection or while injecting insulin in diabetics. For prevention it should be made sure that the injection is placed inside the muscles and not in the subcutaneous fat. Lipodystrophy can also be caused due to injections for vaccinations, hormone injections, or during acupuncture.

Panniculitis: This is a medical condition in which there is inflammation of the subcutaneous fat. This inflammation is then followed by abnormal loss of fat causing Lipodystrophy.

Parry-Romberg Syndrome: Also known by the name of Progressive Hemifacial Atrophy, this causes abnormal thinning of skin, fatty tissue and the underlying bony structures of one side of face resulting in Lipodystrophy.

Generalized or Complete Acquired Lipodystrophy: This is quite a rare form of Lipodystrophy. In this condition, the loss of fat begins right from childhood and in the growing years of a child. It is seen more in females than males and tends to occur after an infection like chicken pox or measles. It is also associated with diabetes and hypercholesterolemia.

Partial Acquired Lipodystrophy: This form of Lipodystrophy usually occurs when the child enters adolescence and tends to develop after a viral illness. The areas where the fat is lost most are the face and the trunk. This is mostly seen in females than in males. Partial Lipodystrophy can also develop in people with autoimmune disorders like systemic lupus erythematosus, hypothyroidism and rheumatoid arthritis.

Congenital Lipodystrophy: This type of Lipodystrophy is visible right at the time of birth of a child and is believed to be caused due to some genetic abnormalities. It can also be complete or partial. It is said to be caused due to abnormalities in the AGPAT2 gene. This condition results in enlargement of the liver and kidneys.

Partial Congenital Lipodystrophy: Partial Congenital Lipodystrophy is said to occur more in people with hypertension, diabetes, and severe hypertriglyceridemia causing pancreatitis and premature coronary artery disease. This type of Lipodystrophy has two subtypes Type I and Type II.

Type 1: In this form of Partial Congenital Lipodystrophy there is abnormal loss of fat from extremities and there is more of a central obesity. It is seen mostly in females.

Type 2: In this type, there is abnormal loss of fat from the extremities, abdomen, and thorax.

Complete Congenital Lipodystrophy: This is an extremely rare condition.

What are the Treatments for Lipodystrophy?

What are the Treatments for Lipodystrophy?

The treatment for Lipodystrophy depends on the underlying cause of the condition. They may include:

  • Surgical procedure in which fat from one part of the body is moved to another part of the body.
  • Monitoring diabetes and hypercholesterolemia
  • Medication like steroids can be used for treatment of Lipodystrophy.


  1. National Organization for Rare Disorders – Lipodystrophy: https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/lipodystrophy/
  2. American Society of Plastic Surgeons – Lipodystrophy: https://www.plasticsurgery.org/reconstructive-procedures/lipodystrophy
  3. Medscape – Lipodystrophy: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/123795-overview

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 1, 2023

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