Acquired lipodystrophy



What is acquired lipodystrophy?

Lipodystrophy is a condition that occurs when there is a problem with the way your body uses and stores fat. It’s called acquired because you aren’t born with it. It often influences the fat that’s just under your skin, so it can change the way you look. It also can cause other changes in your body.

Some people with HIV get lipodystrophy (LD-HIV). It may be relevant to the medicines they take or the disease itself.

Some other acquired lipodystrophies are:

  • Acquired generalized lipodystrophy (AGL), or Lawrence syndrome
  • Acquired partial lipodystrophy (APL), also called progressive lipodystrophy or Barraquer-Simons syndrome
  • Localized lipodystrophy

How common is acquired lipodystrophy?

AGL often appears in children, but adults can get it, too. APL typically starts around ages 8-10. Both conditions affect girls 3 times more often than boys. Both of AGL and APL cause a person to lose fat from her face, so she may look sick or much older than she is.

Localized lipodystrophy can occur to anyone at any age.

However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of acquired lipodystrophy?

Most importantly, all kinds of acquired lipodystrophy cause a loss of body fat. However, exactly what that means for each person is different. The type your child has will affect:

  • Where it happens
  • How much fat is lost
  • Other effects on her body


  • Losing fat from under the skin all over her body, including her face, arms, legs, palms, and sometimes the soles of her feet. She could look very muscular, and you’ll be able to see veins under her skin.
  • Kids with AGL are very hungry all the time and grow fast.
  • A woman might have irregular periods or none at all


  • This type affects just the upper body, on both sides. It usually starts with her face and moves to her neck, arms, and chest.


  • This looks like a dent in the skin, but the skin itself seems fine. The size can vary. It could be in one spot or many. There might also be tender or painful bumps.

When should I see my doctor?

Early diagnosis and treatment can stop this condition from worsening and prevent another medical emergency, so talk to your doctor as soon as possible to prevent this serious condition.

If you have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes acquired lipodystrophy?

Doctors don’t know exactly what causes acquired lipodystrophy, but some triggers may play a role:

  • An infection, such as measles, pneumonia, infectious mononucleosis, or hepatitis
  • A disease where your immune system attacks your body (called an autoimmune disease)
  • Repeated injections in or pressure on the same place on your body
  • An injury

Risk factors

What increases my risk for acquired lipodystrophy?

You may have higher risks for this condition if you are experiencing these following conditions:

  • Using some medications, getting autoimmune reactions or other unknown mechanisms.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is acquired lipodystrophy diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects that you experience Acquired lipodystrophy, he/she will perform an exam thoroughly to determine this condition.

Some tests that can help doctor to determine the condition:

  • For a skin biopsy, the doctor will cut a small piece of skin and check the cells under a microscope.
  • Skinfold thickness measurements, checking how much skin he can pinch between his fingers at specific spots on her body
  • A special X-ray that measures bone mineral density
  • A special whole-body MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to make pictures showing tissues with fat
  • Blood test
  • Urine tests check for kidney problems.

How is acquired lipodystrophy treated?

Since you can’t replace the missing body fat, your aim will be to avoid complications of the disease. A healthy lifestyle plays a major role.

Patients with lipodystrophy should eat a low-fat diet. But children still need enough calories and good nutrition so they grow properly. Exercise will help your child stay healthy, too. Physical activity lowers blood sugar and can keep fat from building up dangerously.

People with AGL may be able to get metreleptin injections (Myalept) to replace the missing leptin and help prevent other diseases. Statins and omega-3 fatty acids, found in some fish, can help control high cholesterol or triglycerides, too.

If your child has or gets diabetes, she’ll need to take insulin or other drugs to control her blood sugar.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage acquired lipodystrophy?

Over time, people with AGL can lose most or all of their body fat. With APL, it typically stops after a few years.

Generally, the more fat you lose, the more serious the condition is. Yet many people with lipodystrophy live active, productive lives.

You’ll need to work closely with your doctor to prevent complications.

Having a proper diet helps you to treat this condition significantly.

Moreover, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are also encouraged as a way to decrease the chances of developing diabetes

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Review Date: June 27, 2017 | Last Modified: June 27, 2017