Discovering a lump or bump growing in any part of the body can cause discomfort. The first thought that comes to mind for some may be “Is this cancerous?” Not all growths are harmful, but it is best to have any abnormal growth in the body checked by a doctor to ensure that the condition does not escalate to a disease that can be incurable.
Lipoma is an example of an abnormal tissue growth that can affect one out of a thousand people. Find out more about this condition in this article.
Lipoma: What is it?
A lipoma is a type of tumour that is made up of fat and slowly grows sandwiched between the skin and the muscle tissue underneath it. A lipoma is not painful to the touch and usually feels doughy. This small mass will move around when pressed.
Although considered as a tumour, lipomas are benign growths. These fatty tissues are not cancerous, but they may appear to be like a liposarcoma, which is an unusual cancer.
Lipomas vary in kind. To identify the kind of lipoma a patient has, a doctor will have a tissue sample of the tumour undergo a microscopic examination. A lipoma may either be any of the following:
- Angiolipoma – these are made up of both fat and numerous blood vessels.
- Atypical lipoma – these are made up of numerous deep fats.
- Conventional lipoma – these are the kind of lipoma that usually exists and is made up of mature white fat.
- Firbolipoma – these are made up of tissue fibres and fat.
- Hibernoma – these are made up of brown fat.
- Myelolipoma – these are made up of fat tissue that generates white blood cells.
- Pleomorphic lipoma – these are made up of fats that differ in shape and size.
- Spindle cell lipoma – these are made up of fat cells that look akin to a spindle.
Symptoms and causes
Lipoma can appear at random parts of the body, but the common places are in the abdomen, arms, back, chest, forehead, shoulders, thighs and torso. Some individuals may have more than one lipoma in their body.
As for symptoms, a lipoma is usually small and round or oval-shaped. It is soft to the touch and moves when pressure is applied to it. A lipoma commonly measures around two inches in diameter, but on rare occasions they can grow wide to about six inches. Some lipomas may be painful, especially when there are blood vessels contained in it.
The exact reason why lipomas develop in the body is still unknown. Although medical researchers have noted that these are usually present among patients who have a family history of lipoma. There are also certain conditions that can be a factor in allowing lipoma to multiply in the body, such as Dercum’s disease, Gardner syndrome, Hereditary multiple lipomatosis, and Madelung’s disease. Some risk factors may also result to lipomas. These factors are excessive consumption of alcohol, glucose intolerance, diseases affecting the liver, and obesity.
Diagnosis, management, and treatment
Diagnosing a lipoma is done through a physical exam. A biopsy may be recommended to be sure that the lipoma is not cancerous. To do a biopsy, a small part of the lipoma will be taken and the tissue will be sent to a laboratory for testing to confirm that the fatty tissues growth is not malignant or cancerous. Other than biopsy, CT scans, MRIs, or X-rays may be done to examine the fatty tissue.
Lipomas may be left on without any medical treatment if they are not painful. However, they should be checked on regularly. Because lipomas can grow more than the usual two inches in diameter, they can look unsightly. Lipomas that are large in size can likewise cause pain in the nerves.
Lipoma removal can be done through surgery. A surgical procedure normally uses local anaesthesia or general anaesthesia. To remove the lipoma, the doctor will create an incision in the skin where the lipoma is located as soon as the anaesthesia kicks in. The lipoma is then removed through extraction.
Surgery is a safe way to treat lipoma. However, it is not a hundred percent guarantee that this procedure is free from any risks. Generally, the risks that can be expected following a lipoma removal through surgery are similar to any other surgical procedure. These are bruising, infection, and scar formation around the surgical area. Specific to this condition, fluid accumulation (seroma) in the part of the skin where the lipoma was removed can happen. This is not something to be worried about as the fluid resolves on its own and disappears after seven to fourteen days.
Lipomas that have been removed completely no longer reoccur.
Other treatments that may be used for lipoma treatment are liposuction and steroids. It is best to get a doctor’s consultation to know which procedure is highly efficient to have a lipoma removed.
Lipoma and cancer
As stated previously, lipoma is non-cancerous. Medical experts on this matter believe that lipomas do not transform mutate to become cancerous in nature.
Lipomas that are present in families cannot be prevented. This is the same case in case there are health conditions present in the body that cause lipoma to form. However, for Madelung’s disease, an individual may lower the risk of developing lipoma by lessening or completely avoiding alcohol consumption.
Lipomas are small lumps that grow abnormally in certain areas of the body. These growths may contain fats and blood vessels. They are usually harmless, non-cancerous, and they do not spread to the other parts of the body. The appearance of lipomas in the skin can be unpleasant aesthetically especially when they grow bigger in size. Some lipomas may also cause discomfort or pain when touched.
The most effective way to treat liposomal is to undergo a surgical procedure. They do not disappear even when warm compress is applied to them, unlike other bumps in the skin, because these fatty deposits will only disappear by way of extraction.
Visit Alpine Surgical Practice to know more about lipoma removal.
Alpine Surgical Practice – Dr Aaron Poh, Consultant Surgeon
3 Mount Elizabeth
#17-16 Medical Centre
Phone: +65 6589 8929
Whatsapp: +65 8875 0080