Lipomas, which are benign tumors containing fatty tissue, can form in many different parts of the body, and therefore there are many types. While most lumps do not need to be removed for medical reasons, if the lipomas become painful, uncomfortable, or even unsightly, you may opt to have your lump removed.
If you suffer from lipomas and are interested in learning more about lipoma removal, our world-renowned surgeons at the Lipoma Removal Center of Excellence in Los Angeles can help determine if having your fatty lump removed is the best option. To speak with a board-certified lipoma doctor, please contact our outpatient surgery center.
Types of Lipomas
Most doctors name the different types of lipomas fby the body part affected, as this determines what treatment options (if any) are appropriate. The following types of lipomas are located just beneath the skin and are called subcutaneous lipomas or superficial subcutaneous lipomas:
- Neck lipoma (lipoma on neck) – A patient may want to remove a neck lipoma for cosmetic reasons.
- Breast lipoma – While benign, any lumps found in the breasts should be examined by a doctor to rule out cancer.
- Forehead lipoma (lipoma on forehead) – Typically, these do not need to be removed for medical reasons, but patient may want to have them removed for cosmetic reasons.
- Spinal lipoma (lipoma on spine) – Also known as a filum terminale lipoma or filum lipoma, spinal lipomas may need to be removed because they can be painful and result in other symptoms such as numbness, tingling, weakness, urinary incontinence, stiffness in the hands and feet, and difficulty with bowel movements.
- Head lipoma (lipoma on head or scalp lipoma) – While rare, a scalp lipoma can be painful or irritating, however having this type of lipoma removed is a fairly easy and quick procedure.
- Back lipoma (lipoma on back or lower back) – Also known as an episacral lipoma or episacroiliac lipoma, these lipomas do not typically need to be removed except for cosmetic reasons or if they are causing lower back pain.
- Abdominal lipoma – These occur either as a result of a genetic mutation or a hereditary condition called lipomatosis.
- Shoulder lipoma – The shoulder is an extremely common spot for lipomas to form.
- Arm lipoma (lipoma on arm) – One of the most common places for lipomas to develop is the arm.
- Thigh lipoma (lipoma on thigh) – Another one of the most common lipoma formation spots is the thigh.
- Chondroid lipoma – Chondroid lipomas are yellow and deep-seated, and typically occur in the legs of women.
- Spindle cell lipoma – Asymptomatic, these lipomas are most often found among older men in the back, neck and shoulders.
Additionally, in rare cases, lipomas can affect certain organs in your body and potentially be malignant. Although cancerous fatty tumors (liposarcomas or lipoma sarcoma) are very rare, it is important to seek medical advice if you develop an internal lipoma.
Common internal lipomas include:
- Brain lipoma (corpus callosum lipoma) – These may or may not present symptoms, and are considered a rare congenital brain condition.
- Kidney lipoma (renal lipoma) – Kidney lipomas typically occur in middle-aged women
- Colon lipoma (submucosal lipoma) – These lipomas are very rare and are most often detected through a colonoscopy.
- Pancreatic lipoma – These rare lipomas are most often detected incidentally through CT scans.
- Spermatic cord lipoma – Fairly rare, spermatic cord lipomas typically present with hernia-like symptoms
- Pedunculated lipoma – These occur in the gastrointestinal tract (sometimes as a duodenal lipoma).
- Intramuscular lipoma – Developing in muscle tissue, intramuscular lipomas usually form within the neck, legs, head and torso.
- Lipoma arborescens – This is a rare condition that affects the joints, and may cause joint swelling.
- Intraosseous lipoma – This extremely rare lipoma affects the bones, typically within the lower extremities.
If you suffer from any of these lipomas and would like to learn about treatment options, or if you have been diagnosed with an atypical fatty lump and are concerned about lipo sarcoma, please don’t hesitate to contact our outpatient surgery center. A board-certified surgeon at our facilities can help find the right course of treatment and testing for you.
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Fatty Lump FAQ
Q: How are lipomas diagnosed?
A: Subcutaneous lipomas can often be diagnosed simply by sight, but internal lipomas that affect the spine, joints or organs may require a CT scan, MRI, colonoscopy or other exam.
Q: Does an atypical lipoma mean that I have cancer?
A: No! Lipomas are benign, which means they are noncancerous. However, if you have an atypical lipoma it may need to be removed in order to preserve your health. Additionally, liposarcomas (cancer) are often mistaken for lipomas, so it is important to have your lipoma examined by an expert to ensure there is no cancer.
Q: When would I need to have my lipoma removed?
A: Lipomas typically do not require removal, but some patients dislike the appearance of their lipomas and wish to have them removed for aesthetic purposes. Additionally, if the lipoma is painful, uncomfortable, or is producing a discharge or foul odor, removing the lipoma may be necessary. Also, it’s important to remember that the sooner a lipoma is removed, the smaller the surgical scar will be. If surgeons are able to remove the lipoma before it grows, the resulting scar can be very minimal.
Q: How do I know if my lump is a lipoma or cancer?
A: In most cases, a lump beneath the surface of the skin is a lipoma or fatty tumor, but in rare cases it could be a malignant tumor, or could contain precancerous cells. If you find a lump in your skin, it is important to have it examined by a lipoma specialist right away in order to rule out cancer.
Contact a Lipoma Specialist in Los Angeles
While most lipomas do not need to be removed, when they become painful or when they produce a foul odor or discharge, they may need to be surgically removed. Additionally, some patients may find their lipomas unsightly and wish to have them removed to improve their appearance and self-confidence.
To learn more about lipoma removal and other lipoma treatment options, please contact the Lipoma Removal Center of Excellence, and schedule a consultation with one of our lipoma doctors by filling out our online contact form or by calling (888) 316-9905.
Please visit this article on the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons on Lipomas.
Next, read about lipoma causes.