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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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Madelung disease is a rare condition characterized by the growth of fatty tumors (lipomas) symmetrically around the neck, shoulders, upper arms and/or upper trunk.[1] It most often affects men of Mediterranean ancestry between the ages of 30 and 70 who have a history of alcohol abuse. Non-alcoholics and women can also be affected. The signs and symptoms, and the disease progression, vary greatly from person to person.[2] Usually, accumulation of fatty tissue increases progressively and often leads to a loss of neck mobility and pain.[3] There may be a period of rapid growth of the tumors followed by a period of stabilization. The lipomas can cause cosmetic deformity and peripheral neuropathy. In the majority of cases, the disease is benign; however, there have been cases in which lipomas have become cancerous.[2] The exact cause of Madelung disease is unknown but may be associated with mutations in mitochondrial DNA and/or alcoholism.[3] Treatment may include avoiding alcohol, medications to correct associated metabolic conditions and surgery or liposuction to remove the lipomas.[2]
Last updated: 6/28/2013


  1. Madelung's Disease. NORD. April 1, 2005;
  2. Ramos S, Pinheiro S, Diogo C, Cabral L, Cruzeiro C. Madelung Disease. Annals of Plastic Surgery. 2009;
  3. Marie-Christine Vantyghem. Familial symmetric lipomatosis. Orphanet. October 2006; Accessed 6/28/2013.
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Basic Information

  • The Cushing's Help and Support has created an information page on Madelung disease. To view the information page, click on the link.
  • The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) is a federation of more than 130 nonprofit voluntary health organizations serving people with rare disorders. Click on the link to view information on this topic.

In Depth Information

  • The Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) is an catalog of human genes and genetic disorders. Each entry has a summary of related medical articles. It is meant for health care professionals and researchers. OMIM is maintained by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 
  • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs.  Access to this database is free of charge.
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Madelung disease. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.