Suction-assisted lipectomy for lipodystrophy syndromes attributed to HIV-protease inhibitor use

Plast Reconstr Surg. 1999 Nov;104(6):1814-20; discussion 1821-2.


The addition of HIV-protease inhibitors to the arsenal of therapies for the treatment of HIV infection has resulted in significant suppression of viral load such that HIV-positive individuals experience reduced morbidity and extended life expectancy. Recently, a number of syndromes have been described involving abnormal fat distribution that may be associated with prolonged HIV-protease inhibitor therapy. These syndromes include hypertrophy of the cervicodorsal fat pad ("buffalo hump"); a tendency toward increased central adiposity ("protease paunch"); adiposity in the submental, mandibular, and lateral cheek regions of the face; and hypertrophy of adipose tissue in the breast in women. A peripheral lipodystrophy, or fat-wasting, in the extremities and face (particularly the malar and nasolabial fold regions) has also been observed. As these patients live longer and healthier lives, many are beginning to seek surgical correction of the disfigurements. In this regard, we present a review of the literature regarding these recently described syndromes to familiarize plastic and reconstructive surgeons with the unique deformities encountered in this ever-increasing patient population. We also present our results with suction-assisted lipectomy for treatment of these deformities. Physical findings, pathogenesis, and surgical management are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • HIV Protease Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • HIV Protease Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Lipectomy*
  • Lipodystrophy / chemically induced*
  • Lipodystrophy / surgery
  • Male
  • Syndrome
  • Treatment Outcome


  • HIV Protease Inhibitors