What is lipoma?
Lipoma is a growth of fatty tissues. These tissues develop under your skin in a slow process. Even though it may occur at different ages, but it is not seen in case of children. It can show up on any part of the body but generally they are seen on the neck, back, arms, abdomen, shoulders and thighs. It is a benign tumor, which means it does not cause cancer. It is rarely harmful to the patient.
Causes and risk factors
Lipoma is a fatty tissue tumor and the exact cause of this medical problem is not yet known. However, there are certain risk factors associated with this condition. If you have a family history of the condition, the possibility of you having the skin lump will increase. It is also more frequent in adults who are 40 to 60 years old.
There are some conditions which may increase the possibility of you having lipoma. Such conditions are-
- Adiposis dolorosa
- Cowden syndrome
- Gardner's syndrome
- Madelung disease
Is it possible to separate lipoma from other skin growths?
Even though you may suffer from different types of tumors on your skin, it is possible to differentiate lipoma from other skin problems because it has distinct characteristics. The following characteristics will help you to understand whether you’re suffering from lipoma or not-
- The tumors are soft and they move easily when you touch with your finger
- They are small
- They are present just under the skin
- Colorless or pale
You can also confirm lipoma problems by checking its location. It is most commonly found in the neck, shoulders, and back and only sometimes they are seen on the thighs, stomach and arms. It is generally not painful. It can be painful only if the tumors grow into nerves.
Diagnosis of lipoma
Diagnosis of lipoma is easy because a physical exam will help you to find it. It is not painful. It feels like dough. It also moves easily because it is composed of fatty tissues.
Your dermatologist may ask for a biopsy of the tumor. A small portion is taken from the tumor and then tested in a laboratory to eliminate the possibility of cancer. It is good to do that because in some cases lipoma may resemble liposarcoma, which is cancerous. However, liposarcomas can be easily differentiated because they are painful.
In some cases MRIs and CT scans may also be needed to make sure it is lipoma only.
Treatment of lipoma
There are several different treatment options available for treating those lumps. If dermatologist is the right person to decide about the treatment options if you are visiting him. Several different factors may decide what course he recommends for treatment of the tumors. These factors include-
- The size of the lumps
- Personal or family history of skin cancer
- Number of tumors
- If it is painful
A lipoma can be surgically removed. It is the most common procedure. This method is useful only if you have a big skin tumor and it is still growing.
Liposuction can help you to get rid of lipomas. As the tumors are fat based, liposuction can help you to get rid of such tumors. In this procedure, the area to be undergone treatment is numbed and then a needle attached to a large syringe is used to get rid of the fat.
Steroid injections are also used on the affected areas to shrink the lipomas. They, however, cannot completely remove the tumors.
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