Lipodystrophy syndrome (lipo for short) is the name for a group of separate , but related, conditions that are associated with HAART. The term lipodystrophy actually refers to several distinct problems , including abnormal fat loss or gain and metabolic complications. These may occur separately or together.
Abnormal fat distribution
Fat loss – Lipoatrophy means a loss of subcutaneous fat (the fat just below the skin) in the face, arms, legs, buttocks and sometimes the trunk. Lipoatrophy (loss of fat) is distinct from muscle wasting (loss of lean body mass). While it can be disturbing to lose body fat , muscle wasting is a much more serious medical condition. If you notice a thinning of the limbs or buttocks , rather than assume this is purely due to fat loss it is important to assess whether any muscle loss is also happening . Talk with your doctor about this. Lipoatrophy is difficult to reverse, and nutrition therapy is not an effective treatment. It is important to realize that any weight loss will worsen fat loss, especially in the face , and that fat may not come back even if the weight is regained. Talk to your doctor about ways to manage lipoatrophy.
Fat gain – In another aspect of lipodystrophy, fat can accumulate in different parts of the body, including in the abdominal cavity around the organs, in the breasts, as a pad of fat between the shoulder blades or on the back of the neck (sometimes called “buffalo hump”), and sometimes as subcutaneous fat on the back , particularly in women. This accumulation of fat is not the same as normal weight gain. Although it can be difficult to treat, some people have been able to reduce stomach fat accumulation with diet and exercise. Talk with your doctor about ways to manage fat gain.