Dercum’s Disease (Adiposis Dolorosa)

Dercum’s disease, or adiposis dolorosa, is a rare condition characterized by multiple, painful lipomas, or small benign fatty tumors in the adipose tissue. These lipoma (fatty tissue) mainly occur on the trunk, the upper arms and upper legs. The cause and mechanism of Dercum’s disease remains unknown but possible causes range from tissue trauma to congenital.

The exact cause of Dercum’s disease has not yet been established by the medical community. Dercum’s disease most commonly appears between the ages of 35 and 50 years of age. Similar to lipedema, it is 5-30x more common in women than in men.


Multiple lipomas and chronic pain are the primary symptoms of this disease. Additional signs an symptoms of Dercum’s Disease include bruising easily, sleep disturbances, impaired memory, depression, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, bloating, weight gain, constipation, fatigue, weakness, and joint and muscle aches.


A diagnosis of Dercum’s disease is based on patient history and the physical findings. There are no specific laboratory test for this disease but high resolution ultrasound imaging or MRI can help with the diagnosis and is part of the standard workup.

Dercum’s Disease Treatment

Surgical Options

Surgical excision of fatty tissue deposits around painful areas that are subject to a significant amount of physical contact using traditional surgery or liposuction has been used with good results. Because it is often a recurring condition,  NYC Surgical Associates favors the least invasive techniques to minimize tissue trauma, scarring, and lower the risk and complexity of any procedures that are needed in the future.

Non-Surgical Options

The pain in Dercum’s disease is often reported to be refractory to traditional pain medications and anti-inflammatory agents. Anesthetic medications injected into the small tumors has helped for varied amounts of time in different studies, but often requires repeated dosing.

A few patients noted some improvement when treated with systemic corticosteroids, but there are also reports of this worsening the pain in a small number of patients for unknown reasons.

The best option for you requires a discussion with your surgeon that involves advanced imaging to identify the location of the problem, and the type of symptoms you are having. With this information we can create a custom treatment plan to treat your issue with the least invasive, lowest risk option possible.

Decrum’s Disease Treatment New York & New Jersey

NYC Surgical Associates is committed to helping patients with Decrum’s disease receive the best care possible. The first step towards treatment is always a medical consultation.

Prior to booking a Decrum’s disease consultation with our surgical practice, our team will collect your insurance information to determine if our providers accept your specific insurance plan.

If we do not accept your medical insurance, we will inform you of any out of pocket costs associated with a consultation and help you weigh your options. Either way, a doctor must see you before we can tell you what treatment for your condition will entail, from both a medical and cost standpoint.