Lipodystrophy Makes Zara Hartshorn 13-Years-old look like she’s 50

Zara is not quite a full fledge teen yet, but she looks older than her 21 year old and 16 year old siblings. She also looks older than most of her friends’ grandparents. Zara suffers from lipodystrophy, a genetic disorder that causes the supporting fatty tissue under the skin to crumble while the skin continues to grow.

Zara’s condition, Congenital Generalized Lipodistrophy,  is extremely rare, only about 2,000 people in the entire world have been diagnosed. It is also associated with insulin resistance, diabetes, a high triglyceride level and fatty liver.  The loss of subcutaneous fatty tissues happens at different rates – Zara’s entire family suffers from the disease but her symptoms are far more serious than her older siblings. Zara looked like a grown up by the time she was ten. Now she struggles to convince bus drivers that she deserves the youth rate, not the senior discount.

Though barely a teen, Zara has the appearance of a 50-year-old, something that saps her confidence just when most young people are striving for self-esteem. The Rotherham, England, teen suffers from lipodystrophy, a syndrome that causes the supporting fatty tissue under the skin to crumble even while the skin continues to grow, often at an alarming rate.

The hereditary condition is extremely rare, only about 2,000 people around the world have it — and for Zara, it has devastating social effects.

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