Often, doctors don't know what causes acquired lipodystrophy, but some triggers are:
For example, people with diabetes who have to inject insulin daily tend to get localized lipodystrophy where they keep giving themselves shots. That's a good reason to change your injection site often.
You may have higher risks for this condition if you are experiencing these following conditions:
While all kinds of acquired lipodystrophy cause a loss of body fat, exactly what that means for each person is different. The type your child has will affect:
AGL. She'll lose fat from under the skin all over her body, including her face, arms, legs, palms, and sometimes the soles of her feet. She could look very muscular, and you’ll be able to see veins under her skin.
Kids with AGL are very hungry all the time and grow fast. Adults may have large hands and feet and a strong, square jawbone if their hormone balance is off and they've kept growing. They could have larger than usual sex organs (clitoris and ovaries, penis and testicles).
A woman might have irregular periods or none at all. She could have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). She'll probably have extra hair on her upper lip and chin.
Some people with AGL have patches of dark, velvety skin in their underarms, on their neck, around their belly button or nipples, or on their hands and feet.
Because of the fat loss, a person may have problems using sugar in her body or controlling her blood sugar and triglyceride levels. She could have a large liver or spleen.
APL. This type affects just the upper body, on both sides. It usually starts with her face and moves to her neck, arms, and chest.
Localized. This looks like a dent in the skin, but the skin itself seems fine. The size can vary. It could be in one spot or many. There might also be tender or painful bumps.
When you go to the doctor, he'll do a full exam and ask questions about your child’s health:
Tests of body fat can confirm the diagnosis.
For a skin biopsy, the doctor will cut a small piece of skin and check the cells under a microscope.
Your doctor may also look for a pattern of fat loss with:
Blood tests check:
If the doctor suspects APL, he'll check her blood for evidence of a specific way the body attacks fat cells.
Urine tests check for kidney problems.
Since you can't replace the missing body fat, your aim will be to avoid complications of the disease. A healthy lifestyle plays a big role.
Everyone with lipodystrophy should eat a low-fat diet. But children still need enough calories and good nutrition so they grow properly. Exercise will help your child stay healthy, too. Physical activity lowers blood sugar and can keep fat from building up dangerously.
People with AGL may be able to get metreleptin injections (Myalept) to replace the missing leptin and help prevent other diseases. Statins and omega-3 fatty acids, found in some fish, can help control high cholesterol or triglycerides, too.
If your child has or gets diabetes, she'll need to take insulin or other drugs to control her blood sugar.
Women with AGL shouldn't use oral birth control or hormone replacement therapy for menopause because they can make levels of certain fats worse.
Your doctor may prescribe a lotion or cream to lighten and soften dark skin patches. Over-the-counter bleaches and skin scrubs probably won't work and could irritate the skin.
As your child gets older, she may be able to get plastic surgery to help fill out her face with skin grafts from her thighs, belly, or scalp. Doctors can also use implants and injections of fillers to help reshape facial features. People with APL who have extra fat deposits can use liposuction to get rid of some, but fat may build up again. Talk to your doctor about what approach for her appearance makes sense and when.
Taking Care of Your Child
Because this condition affects how you look, care and compassion are as important as medicine. Focus on keeping your child healthy and being supportive.
Set the tone for others. Be positive and open-minded. People may not know how to react or what to say to keep from prying, or offending or embarrassing you and your child. When someone asks about her, be matter-of-fact about her condition.
Do what you can to boost her self-esteem. Try to focus your praise on achievements, rather than appearance.
Encourage friendships. But kids will be kids, so prepare her for unkind looks and words. You can help her practice how she’ll react with role-play and humor.
Consider professional counseling. Someone with training can help your child and your family sort out their feelings as they deal with the challenges of this disease.
Over time, people with AGL can lose most or all of their body fat. With APL, it typically stops after a few years.
Generally, the more fat you lose, the more serious the condition is. Yet many people with lipodystrophy live active, productive lives.
You’ll need to work closely with your doctor to prevent complications.
Having a proper diet helps you to treat this condition significantly.
Moreover, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are also encouraged as a way to decrease the chances of developing diabetes.