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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Madelung disease

Other Names for this Disease
  • Benign symmetrical lipomatosis
  • Familial symmetric lipomatosis
  • Launois-Bensaude syndrome
  • Madelung's disease
  • Multiple symmetric lipomatosis
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Your Question

My dad has an extremely bad case of Madelung disease and refuses to get help for it. I just want to know if this disease can eventually kill you?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is the long-term outlook for individuals with Madelung disease?

The long-term outlook (prognosis) for individuals with Madelung disease depends on the size, location, and extent of the infiltration of the masses or growths present in each individual.[1] In most cases, the conditon itself is considered benign.[2] However, the growth of masses is usually progressive and tends to have a high rate of recurrence after removal. Advanced cases of neck masses with extension into the mediastinum (the part of the chest between the sternum and the spinal column, and between the lungs) can cause airway and vascular compression.[2]

Head and neck malignancies (cancers) have been reported in affected individuals; however, the association between Madelung disease and these cancers remains uncertain.[2] In extremely rare cases, the masses themselves in affected individuals have become malignant.[2]

Although we are unaware of any studies that address the affect of the condition on life expectancy, the condition is reportedly associated with a high degree of morbidity and about a 10% risk of sudden death by asphyxiation (lack of oxygen).[1]
Last updated: 6/28/2013

How might Madelung disease be treated?

To date, the most effective treatment for Madelung disease is surgery which may include surgical excision (removal) and/or liposuction.[3][2] Liposuction has gained popularity in more recent years due to its minimal scarring. It is also considered less invasive, technically easier, and better suited for individuals with a higher surgical or anaesthetic risk.[2] Some researchers believe it is unnecessary to subject affected individuals to the risks of surgery because the condition is usually benign, and that surgical excision should be limited to those with airway compression or severe cosmetic deformities. The limitations of liposuction include inadequate aspiration of lipoma. The main disadvantage of surgical excision is the scarring.[2] However, it offers the chance of more extensive "debulking" of affected areas. Reportedly, it is rarely possible to remove the lipomas completely.[4]

Some researchers have reported modest success treating the condition with the medication salbutamol, which increases the breakdown of lipids (lipolysis). Abstaining from alcohol intake, weight loss, and correction of any associated metabolic/endocrine abnormalities are also recommended.[5][3][2]
Last updated: 6/28/2013

  • Madelung's Disease. Fat Disorders Research Society. 2013; Accessed 6/28/2013.
  • Sia KJ, Tang IP, Tan TY. Multiple symmetrical lipomatosis: case report and literature review. J Laryngol Otol. July 2012; 126(7):756-758.
  • Ramos S, Pinheiro S, Diogo C, Cabral L, Cruzeiro C. Madelung Disease. Annals of Plastic Surgery. 2009;
  • Ramos S, Pinheiro S, Diogo C, Cabral L, Cruzeiro C. Madelung disease: a not-so-rare disorder. Ann. Plast. Surg. January 2010; 64(1):122-124.
  • Alameda YA, Torres L, Perez-Mitchell C, Riera A. Madelung disease: A clinical diagnosis. Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. 2009;