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Saturday, 24 January 2015


Lipoma – Slow Growing Fatty Lump

A lipoma is a slow growing fatty lump which grows between the skin and the underlying muscle layer. Lipoma usually occurs in middle age and in some cases, may have more than one lipoma. It is unusual to have more than one or two lipomas unless the person may tend to have a rare inherited condition known as familial multiple lipomatosis that may cause it to occur all over the body. It is not cancerous and is usually harmless and can occur on any area of skin where there are fatty cells though it is usually seen on the neck, shoulder, chest, arms and back.

The size could range from the size of a pea to a few centimetres and tend to grow very gradually. One can recognise a lipoma by pressing it which should feel smooth and soft like dough or rubber which may move about under the skin. If unsure, one could consult the physician and get it confirmed whether the lump is a lipoma on examining it. It is a collection of fat cells and does not have any evidence of turning into skin cancer. If the lump tends to change in any way, feels hard or is painful and grows back after it has been removed, the person should consult the physician to check for either angiolipoma, a benign lipoma which could be caused due to an increase in small blood vessels, or liposarcoma which is a rare form of soft tissue cancer.

Diagnosing Lipoma

There are several factors which could increase the risk of the development of lipoma such as being in the age group of 40 and 60 and though it could occur at any age, it is common within this age group and is rare in children. It could also run in the family. People with any other disorder like adiposis dolorosa, Cowden syndrome and Gardner’s syndrome could be at risk of multiple lipomas.

Diagnosing a lipoma is done by a physical examination, removal of a tissue sample or biopsy for lab examination or an ultrasound or other imaging test like an MRI or CT scan if the lipoma tends to be large or has unusual features or appears to be deeper than the fatty tissue. Chances are less and a very small lump resembling a lipoma could be a form of cancer known as liposarcoma which are cancerous tumours in fatty tissue that tend to grow rapidly and does not move under the skin and are painful. If the doctor suspects liposarcoma, a biopsy, MRI or CT scan is done to diagnose the same.

Treatment – Surgical Removal/Steroid Injection/Liposuction

Treatment is not usually needed for lipoma, but if it tends to bother the person, is painful or begins to grow, the physician would recommend it to be removed which can be done surgically by cutting it out. Recurrences after removal are not common and the possible side effects are bruising and scarring. For less scarring, a technique known as minimal excision extraction could be used. Steroid injection is also administered to shrink the lump though it does not eliminate it. Liposuction treatment is also used with the help of a needle and a large syringe to remove the fatty lump.

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