Subcutaneous adipose tissue therapy reduces fat by dual X-ray absorptiometry scan and improves tissue structure by ultrasound in women with lipoedema and Dercum disease, 2018

Topics: Dercum disease, lipoedema, subcutaneous adipose tissue.

Authors: M Ibarra, A Eekema, C Ussery, D Neuhardt, K Garby, K L Herbst


Lipoedema is painful nodular subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) on legs and arms of women sparing the trunk. People with Dercum disease (DD) have painful SAT masses. Lipoedema and DD fat resists loss by diet and exercise. Treatments other than surgery are needed. Six women with lipoedema and one with DD underwent twelve 90-min sessions over 4 weeks. Body composition by dual X-ray absorptiometry scan, leg volume, weight, pain, bioimpedance, tissue size by caliper and ultrasound were analysed before and after SAT therapy by paired t-tests. There was a significant decrease from baseline to end of treatment in weight, 87.6 ± 21 to 86.1 ± 20.5 kg (P = 0.03), leg fat mass 17.8 ± 7.7 to 17.4 ± 7.6 kg (P = 0.008), total leg volume 12.9 ± 4 to 12 ± 3.5 L (P = 0.007), six of 20 calliper sites and tissue oedema. Pain scores did not change significantly. By ultrasound, six women had 22 hyperechoic masses in leg fat that resolved after treatment; five women developed seven new masses. Fascia improved by ultrasound after treatment. SAT therapy reduced amount and structure of fat in women with lipoedema and Dercum disease; studies are needed to compare SAT therapy to other therapies.

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