Progressive Lipodystrophy Treatment & Management

Updated: Apr 09, 2021
  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Medical Care

No specific treatment for progressive lipodystrophy is effective. Symptomatic therapy should be prescribed as necessary for the treatment of renal complications and associated autoimmune disorders in progressive lipodystrophy patients.

Renal and immunologic disturbances may warrant inpatient care at times.

During pregnancy, the health status of the fetus should be ascertained with modalities such as an electronic fetal monitor. Fetal health assessment is particularly important during the third trimester to reduce the risk of intrauterine fetal death associated with progressive lipodystrophy.


Surgical Care

Various surgical techniques have been adopted through the years in an effort to improve progressive lipodystrophy patients’ facial appearance. [27, 28] Dermal-fat grafts from the gluteal region, temporal muscle flaps, silicone-filling material, and subcutaneous injections of fat from unaffected areas have been used with variable results. A novel surgical technique consists of a 1-stage transfer of 2 paddles of thoracodorsal artery perforator flap with 1 pair of vascular anastomoses for simultaneous restoration of bilateral facial atrophy. [4] It may be useful in selected patients for the reconstruction of bilateral facial atrophy.



Referral to a nephrologist or an internist may be warranted for progressive lipodystrophy patients with severe nephropathy and those with associated autoimmune diseases.



Hyperalimentation can result in the excessive accumulation of fat in an unaffected area with no improvement on dystrophic areas.


Long-Term Monitoring

Note the following:

  • Renal status: Patients should be monitored regularly for evidence of glomerulonephritis. Glomerulonephritis can develop more than 10 years after the onset of progressive lipodystrophy.

  • Autoimmune disorders: Patients should be monitored for the development of systemic lupus erythematosus because it was reported in a few patients 2-28 years after the onset of progressive lipodystrophy. [29] Other autoimmune disorders have also been associated with this disease.