It’s not uncommon for both men and women to experience the development of a lipoma over the course of a lifetime. A standard lipoma presents as a large bump under the surface of the skin that is made up of fat cells wrapped in fibrous connective tissue. Lipomas are commonly referred to as benign fatty tumors, and in nearly 20% of cases, lipomas appear in combination with blood vessels known as angio-lipomas. In the majority of cases, lipomas can be safely and easily removed by a certified cosmetic physician or dermatologist. However, in rare cases, the development of lipomas in a patient is significantly increased, resulting in a diagnosis of Dercums Disease.
In general, Dercum’s Disease tends to affect women more frequently than men, but it is not characterized as a gender-specific ailment. The condition is named after Dr. Franciz Xavier Dercum who first described and identified the disease at The University of Pennsylvania in 1888. The identifying symptoms of Dercum’s Disease include the development of multiple and often painful lipomas across the body. For many patients with the disease, lipomas tend to appear in clusters on the upper arms, upper legs and trunk.
Patients with Dercums Disease will often notice slow growing lipomas that begin to appear more quickly and more frequently over time. For many patients, it is the pain associated with the lipomas that bring them to a physician’s office. Similarly, it may be swelling around the lipomas that causes a patient to seek treatment options or removal.
While Dercum’s Disease continues to be studied by medical professionals, to date there is no known origin or cause for the development of this condition. While many physicians initially recommend weight loss as a first step in fighting the effects of Dercum’s Disease, there is no known medical cure for the condition. For many patients who suffer from Dercums Disease conditions, the most efficient route to pain relief is to have larger, more painful lipomas removed as soon as possible. Removing lipomas quickly can help reduce the chances of Dercum’s Disease leading to associated conditions such as sleep disturbances, insomnia, fatigue and issues with mobility due to pain. Lipoma removal can also help patients remain less prone to bruising due to swelling in the affected area. Some patients with Dercum’s Disease have reported that removing the most severe lipomas have improved cognitive abilities, gastrointestinal conditions, and even cardiovascular functions.
If you or someone you know is suffering from Dercums Disease, Dr. Wright and his team at the St. Louis Laser Lipo and Vein Center are here to help. Schedule a consultation to see about our many options and personalized treatment plans.