Leading the Fight Against Fat Disorders

World renowned doctor Karen L. Herbst, one of the foremost researchers and advocates for those with ATDs, is leading the charge to create a new Program for Adipose Tissue Disorders at the University of Arizona. 

Those with ATDs Aren’t Alone Anymore.

We will be their advocates. It’s time to know more about these disorders. To seek better treatments and therapies. To organize information and make it public. To make it easier for those affected to seek accurate diagnoses and treatments. 

Finding Real Answers, Inspiring Real Hope

Philanthropic investment will fuel strategic leadership, empower interdisciplinary teams of researchers, arm experts with cutting-edge tools and technologies, and prepare the next generation of researchers and clinicians to lead the future of ATD treatments, preventions, and cures. 

Leading the Fight Against Lipedema
The problem is clear — we don’t know nearly enough about Lipedema and other Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue (SAT) Disorders.

We’re going to change that. 

Leading the Fight Against Fat Disorders

Message from the TREAT Program Director

“Lipedema has been relatively ignored for over 75 years since it was given a name by Drs. Allen and Hines in 1940 at the Mayo Clinic. It is thought that millions of women all over the world are affected with lipedema and their voices are finally being heard. Now is the time to find the cause of lipedema to guide treatment and prevention. The TREAT program is finding Treatments, performing Research, promoting Education and awareness of lipedema Adipose Tissue.”

— Dr. Karen L. Herbst

The Specific Disorders We’ll Study

The Specific Disorders We Study


Excess and abnormal SAT typically found on the buttocks, hips, thighs, and lower legs but also on the arms in 80%.

Dercum’s Disease

Lumpy fibrotic subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) occurring anywhere on the body accompanied by symptoms of extreme pain, inflammation, and elevated inflammatory markers.  Signs and symptoms of Dercum's Disease are similar to Fibromyalgia.  Angiolipomas are common in Dercum's disease.

Familial Multiple Lipomatosis with or without Angiolipomatosis

When large lipomas develop in fat tissue they deform the tissue.  Angiolipomas (vascular lipomas) are known to be painful and when accompanied by signs and symptoms such as fatigue, cognitive changes, sleep difficulties, gastrointestinal disorders and other signs and symptoms, is called Dercum's Disease.  

Multiple Symmetric Lipomatosis

Abnormal tissue deposits that occur around the neck, upper arms, thighs, abdomen, and upper buttocks.  Associated with alcohol use but may occur in the absence of alcohol use. 

Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue (SAT) Disorders relationship to Obesity

Learning about SAT disorders could help us better understand the fat in obesity and diabetes.

Exciting New Research is on the Horizon

The TREAT Program has many ongoing research studies.  Please email for more information: treatprogram@deptofmed.arizona.edu

Ways to Give


New Research Study!

Removal of abnormal fat tissue from people with Lipedema or Dercum’s Disease by Lymphatic Sparing Liposuction is a common treatment in Europe and now in the United States. If you are 18 years of age or older with Lipedema or Dercum’s Disease and have undergone liposuction to remove abnormal fat tissue in the United States. Contact Dr. Karen Herbst and the TREAT Program.


The University of Arizona asks that’s you participate in a questionnaire to better understand the benefits and the drawbacks (if any) of liposuction performed in the United States. You must complete a written consent online to participate in the study. The study consists of answering 183 questions in an online survey. It should take no more than one hour to complete.


Please use this link to access the survey:  https://is.gd/treatprogramliposuctionsurvey


An institutional review board responsible for human subjects research at the University of Arizona reviewed this research project and found it to be acceptable, according to applicable state and federal regulations and university policies designed to protect the rights and welfare or participants in research.