Author: Dr Paul Jarrett BSc MBBS DCCH DGM FRCP FRACP, Dermatologist, Tauranga, New Zealand, 2005.
Lipodystrophy (also called ‘lipoatrophy’) usually infers loss of fat. The fat layer lies underneath the skin i.e. it is subcutaneous. Loss of subcutaneous fat leads to increased definition of the structures underneath (muscle and bone) and presents as one or more depressions in the skin. If all the underlying structures are affected, it is called ‘panatrophy’.
Lipodystrophy may be congenital (i.e. the tendency to lose fat is present at birth) or acquired (the loss of fat occurs later in life). Lipodystrophy can affect all of the body (generalised lipodystrophy) or just parts of the body (partial lipodystrophy).
The detailed classification of lipodystrophy is difficult.
This is the most common form. Types of acquired localised lipodystrophy include:
Generalised acquired lipodystrophies are rare. They include:
In many cases of acquired lipodystrophy, the cause is unknown.
Congenital lipodystrophy can be generalised or partial. Recent advances have identified some genetic abnormalities.
The treatment depends on the cause of the lipodystrophy. It can involve:
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