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Lipodystrophy, also known as fat redistribution, is a condition characterized by an abnormal distribution of fat in the body. While lipodystrophy usually stems from underlying medical issues thsat need to be treated by your medical doctor, cosmetic aspects can be addressed with various surgical and non-surgical procedures at Larson Plastic Surgery.

What is lipodystrophy?

Lipodystrophy can be generalized, meaning the fatty tissue throughout the body is affected, or it can be partial or localized, present in only one body part. The condition can appear as either abnormal fat buildup or fat loss. It is believed that lipodystrophy is caused by abnormalities in your body’s metabolism and how it stores fatty tissue.

While lipodystrophy can be genetic in origin, it can be triggered by medical conditions such as autoimmune disease, injuries, hepatitis, measles, pneumonia, infectious mononucleosis, and diabetes. Localized lipodystrophy can appear at the site of a previous cortisone injection. In some cases, the cause of lipodystrophy cannot be identified.

What are the symptoms of lipodystrophy?

While men and women can both have lipodystrophy, women are more commonly affected by lipohypertrophy, an abnormal fat accumulation. Men are more likely to have the opposite problem, which is lipoatrophy or abnormal fat loss. This condition can affect the tissue of your face. Visible symptoms of both types of lipodystrophy include:

  • An excess of fat in the upper body but very little fat on the lower body
  • Lack of fat throughout the body
  • Abnormal fat loss in your arms, legs or buttocks
  • Disproportionate body parts due to an excess of fat in one area
  • Weight gain in abdomen, belly or breasts (also in men)
  • Fat accumulations in the back of your shoulders and neck
  • Fatty growths (called lipomas) in other body parts
  • Unusual indentations or flat areas in the face
  • Sunken eyes, cheeks or temples

Diagnosis and treatment

A medical doctor diagnoses lipodystrophy using blood tests and a physical examination. If lipodystrophy is the result of an underlying medical condition, it must be treated by your primary doctor or a specialist.

What we can help you with here at Larson Plastic Surgery is the cosmetic aspect. People with lipodystrophy may be self-conscious about the visual effects and may feel socially limited due to an unpleasant appearance on some area of the body or face. Specific procedures can be used to treat the aesthetic side of lipodystrophy. Non-surgical procedures such as facial fillers can remedy unsightly areas of fat loss in the face, while surgical procedures such as liposuction can be used to remove fat deposits.

Facial fillers

If you are looking to remedy fat loss in your face, the injection of facial fillers is a quick and straightforward procedure requiring no recovery or downtime. No anesthetics or stitches are needed, although if you prefer, a topical numbing cream can be applied for your comfort. A hyaluronic acid-based filler is injected into precise points in your face to smooth indentations or resolve sunken areas. Results are visible immediately, but full results will be visible after any swelling has diminished.


At Larson Plastic Surgery, we offer three different main types of liposuction:

  • Tumescent liposuction: performed using saltwater and anesthesia to swell the fat cells before removing them. A highly effective method of fat removal.
  • Ultrasonic liposuction: performed using ultrasonic sound waves. Ideal for large areas of fat.
  • Laser liposuction: This approach is perfect for smaller fat pockets in sensitive areas. Recovery time is shorter with less discomfort.

The treatment time, anesthesia options, and recovery time will depend on the type of liposuction as well as the size of the area addressed. Dr. Larson will help determine which type of liposuction is best suited to your unique circumstances and will be caring for you throughout your treatment and recovery.

Your private consultation with Dr. Larson

During your first consultation for our Tucson lipodystrophy treatment, Dr. Ethan Larson will ask you for details regarding what you would like to address with your procedure or procedures, and about your aesthetic goals. A board-certified surgeon with years of experience, Dr. Larson is a highly respected professional who is passionate about helping you treat these imperfections so you can feel more like yourself again. Together you will design a treatment plan best suited to your needs and preferences. Dr. Larson may recommend a surgical or non-surgical procedure or a combination of the two. The initial consultation is also a great time to ask any questions you may have.

Dr. Ethan Larson Plastic Surgeon
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