Obesity causing skin discoloration?
May 17, 2008 7:21 PM   Subscribe

Can extreme obesity cause facial skin discoloration?

This is a bizarre little question that I'm asking out of sheer curiosity.

I work with someone who is extremely obese, at least 300 pounds if not more. He has these strange dark markings on the sides of his face near his eyes--they look like big bruises. I know they aren't actual bruises, however, since I've known him for several months and they do not go away.

Today I met a very obese woman at an event, and I noticed that she had very similar dark facial markings. I think hers were a little lower on her face than his were, but otherwise they were much the same bruiselike marks.

Is this common in obese people? If so, why does it happen?
posted by dlugoczaj to Health & Fitness (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Obesity and facial hyperpigmentation can be caused by pituitary adenomas that secrete pro-opiomelanocortin, commonly called melanocortin. The pigmentation is caused not by ACTH, but by MSH.

I don't know why it happened in the cases of the people you met.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:51 PM on May 17, 2008

Were they people of color? Were they middle age or older? Maturational hyperpigmentation is a "new" skin condition that Melvin Alexander has studied and written about (he'll have a chapter on it in a skin of color derm book late this year).

The people he's seen it in have primarily been people of color and obese, and generally middle age or older.

posted by misanthropicsarah at 9:49 PM on May 17, 2008


If this is what you are referencing, it's not uncommon in the obese, and people with Type 2 Diabetes. An ex-boyfriend of mine had it on his neck and a few other places - it's basically a side-effect of blood sugar issues.
posted by FritoKAL at 10:08 PM on May 17, 2008

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