Madelung Syndrome

The Madelung syndrome describes the benign disorder in the fat distribution analogous to a symmetrical lipomatosis. It leads to a strong bilateral increase in fatty tissue in the neck and chin area as well as in the area of ​​the proximal parts of the upper extremities.

Madelung Syndrome

What is Madelung Syndrome?

According to Electronicsmatter, the clinical picture of the Madelung Syndrome manifests itself in an unnatural proliferation of fatty tissue distributed in different parts of the body. The disease is also known as lipomatosis. This includes several clinical pictures, which cannot always be completely distinguished.

In all of them, however, the typical tumors appear. Madelung Syndrome is a metabolic disease that has not yet been adequately researched. Fatty tumors can appear on different parts of the body such as the neck, head, upper and lower extremities, back and abdomen.

Madelung Syndrome is not a malignant disease. Although the proliferating fatty tissue is considered pathological, it is benign. This process is also known as fatty tissue hyperplasia and is mainly a cosmetic problem. Madelung syndrome usually affects the head and neck area.


The causes of Madelung Syndrome have not yet been adequately researched. Some sufferers have a higher incidence within their families. It can therefore be assumed that genetic factors play a role.

Metabolic disorders are also common and are believed to be associated with Madelung Syndrome. Other factors such as diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism and other lipid metabolism disorders can trigger Madelung syndrome.

At the cell level, the fat cells capable of reproduction no longer respond to the body’s signals. Hormones are blocked and lose their effect. Furthermore, HIV treatment is the cause of Madelung syndrome, in which lipomatosis occurs as a side effect as a result of the medication.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Madelung syndrome initially manifests itself in a significant increase in fatty tissue in different parts of the body. These usually appear on the head and neck, in the shoulder area and on the upper and lower extremities. The growths are difficult to distinguish from one another. They are often misinterpreted as weight gain at the onset of the disease.

However, the disease progresses rapidly and the tissue growths are clearly visible. The Madelung Syndrome often manifests itself symmetrically in the affected areas. When the lumps are palpated, they feel very hard. In most cases, other physical limitations also occur.

The neck of fat, which is typical of the disease, can protrude so that the trachea and esophagus are compressed. This causes swallowing and breathing difficulties. There are also psychosocial problems. Those affected suffer greatly from the cosmetic problems caused by Madelung Syndrome.

Diagnosis & course of disease

The disease is very rare, so the diagnosis is usually made by specialists. The most important symptom is the rapidly growing tissue proliferation, which is usually distributed in a conspicuous manner. Of great importance in the diagnosis by a specialist is the removal of tissue, which is then examined in the laboratory. The final diagnosis of Madelung syndrome is made by the histologist.

Madelung syndrome describes a chronic and progressive disease. In most cases, there is progressive growth of the fatty tissue, which is initially faster. As the disease progresses, the progression of Madelung syndrome slows down. In rare cases, even a standstill of the disease could be proven.

This occurred especially when the accompanying risk factors were minimized. With constant treatment, it is possible to control the extent of Madelung syndrome. For this, however, it is necessary for those affected to undergo surgical interventions that cannot be carried out without risks.

These mainly include infections and bleeding. Another risk is that after an operation, the proliferation of fatty tissue progresses even faster.


Because of Madelung Syndrome, those affected primarily suffer from aesthetic complaints. The fat is not distributed proportionally in the body, so that certain areas and regions of the body accumulate more fat than usual, which can sometimes lead to unsightly deformities. This results in an unusual appearance, so that many of those affected do not feel comfortable with their body and suffer from reduced self-esteem or inferiority complexes.

The patient’s quality of life is significantly reduced by Madelung syndrome. However, the growths and tumors can also have a very negative effect on the patient’s health, so that there are problems with breathing or swallowing, for example. It can also lead to shortness of breath or loss of consciousness.

Difficulty swallowing can lead to restrictions or problems with the intake of food and liquid, which can lead to deficiency symptoms. As a rule, surgical intervention or liposuction is necessary for Madelung syndrome in order to limit the symptoms. In most cases, physical activity has no particular effect on these symptoms.

In some cases, however, therapies against asthma must also be used so that those affected remain completely symptom-free. The patient’s life expectancy is usually not reduced by Madelung syndrome.

When should you go to the doctor?

If the person concerned notices deformities on his body or the unusual formation of fat pads, he should consult a doctor. In the case of visual abnormalities or an unnatural distribution of the fatty tissue, a doctor’s visit is required to clarify the cause. If the clothes no longer fit, if there is a feeling of pressure or tightness in shoes or everyday clothing and if you feel generally unwell, you need a doctor.

Fatty growths or swellings on the face should be presented to a doctor. In particular, complaints in the neck, head or chin area are indications of an existing disease that should be treated. With a healthy and balanced diet, the formation of fatty tissue on the extremities, back and abdomen is a warning sign of an existing disorder. If the person concerned is not overweight, there is often a disease of the metabolic system, which must be examined by a doctor.

If there are psychological problems due to the optical changes, a visit to the doctor is also advisable. In the event of abnormal behavior, withdrawal from the social environment or an aggressive appearance, it is advisable to consult a doctor or therapist. Reduced self-confidence, depressive behavioral traits, a diffuse experience of anxiety and compulsions should be treated in cooperation with a therapist.

Treatment & Therapy

No successful treatment methods are known to date against the cause of the Madelung syndrome. Therapy is aimed at controlling the symptoms. Due to the special nature of the fatty tissue growth, sporting activities and diet programs tend to be ineffective.

Therefore, surgical interventions are usually unavoidable. The suction of fat only helps temporarily, but promises immediately visible improvements in the affected body parts. However, if the fatty tissue is too hard, a surgical procedure is carried out in which the tissue is then removed with a scalpel.

However, it should be noted that these interventions usually only provide relief for a short time. The risk of recurrence is also increased. In almost 100 percent of cases, the tissue growth occurs again. However, an operation is always indicated when the growths also affect the organs.

Clinical studies have proven that therapy with the drug salbutamol, which is used to treat asthma, counteracts the formation of proliferating fatty tissue.

Outlook & Forecast

The prognosis of Madelung syndrome is unfavorable. So far, the cause of the disease could not be fully clarified. This makes it difficult for physicians and scientists to develop suitable treatment methods. It can be assumed that there is a genetic disposition that leads to the health problems. If this suspicion is confirmed, the further prognosis will remain unfavorable, since changing human genetics is not legally permitted.

To date, there is no long-term therapeutic method to improve health disorders. Likewise, self-help measures are clearly limited and do not bring the desired effect. As a result, states of emotional distress are often triggered. Ultimately, this significantly increases the risk of developing a mental disorder. In addition, physical complications can develop over time. Often a chronic condition such as asthmadiagnosed. Surgical intervention provides for the removal of formed fat. The possibility of complications that can occur as a result of such an operation must be taken into account. Even with a successful surgical procedure, only short-term improvements in health can be seen in patients with Madelung syndrome. In almost all previous patients, regression and thus repeated growth of the tissue changes have been documented in the further course.


The causes of Madelung Syndrome have not yet been adequately researched. For this reason, the disease is difficult to prevent. In any case, it makes sense to keep metabolic diseases associated with Madelung syndrome sufficiently under control.

Any alcohol consumption should be kept to a minimum, as this is also associated with the disease. This is especially important if there is a family history of Madelung Syndrome.


Since Madelung Syndrome is usually not curable, follow-up care focuses on making the sufferer’s suffering acceptable. In most cases, the symptoms have a very negative effect on the quality of life, so it is important to promote self-confidence in dealing with the disease.

The increased and controllable proliferation of fatty tissue in various parts of the body causes a reduced aesthetics of those affected, so that many patients also suffer from reduced self-esteem and also from inferiority complexes. In children or young people, their appearance can also lead to bullying or teasing, so that these age groups in particular suffer from depression or other mental disorders.

It is therefore advisable to seek professional psychological help to reduce the suffering. In some cases, Madelung syndrome can also reduce the life expectancy of those affected. Contact with other affected people can also promote the exchange of knowledge about the clinical picture and make a significant contribution to well-being.

You can do that yourself

The treatment of Madelug syndrome is usually purely symptomatic. Surgical interventions are usually necessary, after which rest and bed rest are the main priorities. After liposuction, the bandage must be changed daily. In addition, no water should come into contact with the wound for the first two days. Physical exertion should be avoided for the first three to four weeks after the procedure.

Since there is a large loss of fluid after liposuction, sufficient fluid should be consumed after the procedure. Bruises and swellings can be alleviated by a number of home remedies and natural medicine preparations in addition to medical therapy. Similar measures apply to surgical interventions in which the hardened fatty tissue is removed. Good wound care is indicated to avoid wound healing disorders, inflammation and the formation of scars.

Since tissue growth can always occur after an operation, close monitoring by the doctor is necessary. Any concomitant symptoms must be treated at the same time. Inhalations sometimes help against swallowing and breathing difficulties, while any psychosocial effects must be treated as part of therapy.