The growths may appear anywhere on the body but are most commonly found on the torso, upper arms, or upper legs. Typically, the growths are small nodules but can grow into expansive masses that are difficult to surgically remove. Patients may experience the rapid onset of the condition or notice the slow, steady progression of the disease over time. Dercum’s disease most commonly affects patients in their 30s. Dr. Jaime Schwartz is a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience treating Dercum’s disease. At Total Lipedema Care in Beverly Hills, CA, Dr. Schwartz helps patients with the condition to attain relief through a series of treatments that are carefully tailored to meet the patient’s needs. Schedule a consultation today to learn more about your treatment options.
While symptoms may vary from one patient to the next and could initially be mistaken for something else, patients with Dercum’s disease often notice a culmination of the following symptoms:
While doctors are not sure of the exact cause of Dercum’s disease, many feel it is a familial condition related to an autoimmune disorder or a metabolic issue. Dercum’s disease prevents an individual’s body from being able to break down fat, causing the nodules to continue to grow into painful masses.
Currently, there is not a standard diagnosing process for Dercum’s disease. Instead, Dr. Schwartz will focus on ruling out other potential conditions and syndromes, such as lipedema or fibromyalgia. This will likely be done with a biopsy, which involves taking a small sample of tissue from one of your nodules. The sample will be studied to determine your exact diagnosis. Often, Dr. Schwartz will classify your diagnosis into one of three categories:
Nodular – The presence of large lipomas around your back, abdomen, thighs, and/arms
Diffuse – The widespread presence of small lipomas
Mixed – This indicates a combination of both small and large lipomas found in various areas of the body