Dercum’s Disease is a rare condition characterized by painful lipomas, or benign fatty tumors, primarily located on the abdomen and legs. According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, it occurs in more women than men. The cause of Dercum’s Disease is unknown, but research indicates that it may be an autoimmune disorder or a problem associated with metabolizing fat in the endocrine system.
The Four Primary Symptoms of Dercum’s Disease:
- Multiple painful fatty masses
- Weakness and fatigue
- Mental disturbances, emotional instability, depression, confusion, and dementia.
In addition, lipomas can further cause nerve compression resulting in weakness and pain.
The diagnosis is based on clinical criteria, physical examination, and by excluding a differential diagnosis. MRI, CT scans, and biopsies can be helpful in identifying Dercum’s Disease. There is no current cure for the disease.
Treatment of Dercum’s Disease
- Medication to relieve pain
- Traditionally, surgical removal of the fatty tumor(s) is performed, however, the patient is left with scarring and in cases of multiple fatty tumors, multiple scars are accrued.
- A less invasive option has been liposuction, however, it is difficult to remove the entire tumor resulting in future recurrence.
- Dr. Volshteyn has developed an innovative method of removing the fatty tumor utilizing ultrasonic destruction with minimal incisions. This process turns the tumor into a liquid consistency and then gently suctioned out through the same small incision.
- Minimal scarring
- Little to no discomfort or downtime
- Ideal for removal of multiple lipomas
- Can be done under local anesthesia
- In many cases, no sutures are needed
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- Wortham, N. C., and Tomlinson, I. P. (2005) Dercum’s disease. Skinmed. 4, 157162; quiz 1631644.
- National Organization for Rare Disorders. https://www.rarediseases.org/
- HanssonE, SvenssonH, and BrorsonHReview of Dercum’s disease and proposal of diagnosĕc criteria, diagnosĕc methods,classificaĕon and management. Orphanet J Rare Dis.,2012 April 30.doi: 10.1186/1750‐1172‐7‐23. 12/12/2016 FDRS Dercum’s Description
- Hansson E, Svensson H, and Brorson H Review of Dercum’s disease and proposal of diagnostic criteria, diagnostic methods,classification and management. Orphanet J Rare Dis., 2012 April 30. doi: 10.1186/17501172723.
- Brorson H, Fagher B. Dercum’s disease. Fatty tissue rheumatism caused by immune defense reaction? Lakartidningen, 1996; 93: 1430; 1433–6.
- Lange U, Oelzner P, Uhlemann C. Dercum’s disease (Lipomatosis dolorosa): successful therapy with pregabalin and manual lymphatic drainage and a current overview. Rheumatol Int. 2008;29:17–22. doi: 10.1007/s0029600806353.