A lipoma is defined as a growth of fat cells within a thin and fibrous capsule, typically found just beneath the skin. Lipomas most often form in the neck, torso, upper thighs, armpits and upper arms, although they can occur in other parts of the body. These benign growths are not cancerous, and are actually the most common noncancerous growth of soft tissue.
While lipomas typically do not require treatment, you can undergo lipoma removal if they are causing pain or if your doctor determines removal is necessary. Removal of a these fatty tumors is performed as an outpatient procedure, and patients can go home the same day as the procedure. At the Lipoma Removal Center of Excellence, our board-certified surgeons specialize in minimally invasive lump removal. You can schedule a consultation with a lipoma specialist at our outpatient surgery center by filling out our online contact form.
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What Is a Lipoma?
When you define “lipoma,” it is important to understand that most lipomas are not cancer. In fact, most these fatty tumors do not need to be removed or require any treatment. They are simply fatty, slow-growing lumps that form beneath the skin. However, lipomas can resemble other types of fatty tumors which contain precancerous cells indicating that liposarcoma (cancer in fatty, soft tissue) may develop.
This growth will occur most often in 40 to 60 year-olds, although they can develop at any age. Additionally, people with disorders such as Madelung disease, Cowden syndrome, adiposis dolorosa and Gardner’s syndrome tend to have an increased risk for developing multiple these fatty tumors.
Lipomas typically look like skin lumps or bumps, and while it is not completely understood what causes lipomas, they have a tendency to be inherited. Some of the major signs that a skin lump is a lipoma are:
- Small circumference – lumps are usually .4 inches to 1.2 inches, and they appear just beneath the surface of the skin.
- Movable – If you are concerned a lump in your skin may be a lipoma, touch the surface to see if you can move it. If it’s movable and has a soft and rubbery texture, it may be one as well.
- Not painful – With few exceptions, most lumps are not painful. If you have a growth that is painful, it is important to seek treatment right away.
- Same size over time – Most of these lumps do not get bigger with time, and if they do, it is a very small growth that occurs over a long period of time.
A lipoma doctor can usually diagnose a growth based on its appearance alone, but in certain cases a ultrasound may be necessary for a full diagnosis. Additionally, your doctor may want to biopsy (remove) a sample of the lipoma to rule out any cancer in the growth. A lipoma usually does not need to be removed unless it is causing pain or discomfort, or if you are unhappy with its appearance.
Lipomas may need to be removed if your doctor suspects there are any precancerous cells, although lipoma cancer (known as liposarcoma) is extremely rare.
While removal of a lump is not usually necessary, it may be required under the following circumstances:
- The lump has become tender or painful
- A foul-smelling discharge is draining from the lump
- It has become inflamed or infected
- It has increased in size (and has become a large lump )
- It makes movement difficult
- The lump is bothersome or unsightly
- Lipoma excision – This option is typically utilized for small or less complex lipomas, and involves the removal of the lump under local anesthesia.
- Liposuction – While excision is the treatment of choice, liposuction may be used in rare cases to remove certain lumps.
- Lipoma resection – This treatment option involves a small incision to remove the lump with as little scarring as possible, and is performed under general anesthesia.
Removing lipomas, especially multiple lump , can significantly improve your quality of life. Our doctors at the Lipoma Removal Center in Los Angeles were trained in top programs and specialize in the most cutting-edge and minimally invasive procedures.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do lipomas hurt?
A: Lipomas do not typically hurt, but in some cases there may be pain or discomfort. If you do experience pain, you may need to have the lipoma removed.
Q: How long is the recovery from lipoma removal?
A: Lipoma removal is performed on an outpatient basis, and patients can go home the same day as their procedure. Most patients can return to work and other daily activities the following day, although you may be required to follow specific aftercare instructions to ensure successful healing.
Q: What is the difference between a lipoma and a fatty tumor?
A: A lipoma is a fatty tumor that is benign or not harmful, and is a lump composed of adipose tissue.
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 lump or fatty tumor, but in rare cases it could be a malignant tumor or contain precancerous cells. Any time you find a lump in your skin, it is important to have it examined by a specialist right away in order to rule out cancer.
Q: When is the best time to remove a lump?
A: Ideally, a lump should be removed while it is still small. When a lump is small, the removal process is generally quicker, easier, and leaves a smaller scar. Most importantly, however, removing a lipoma while it is still small reduces the chances of the lipoma turning into something malignant.
Contact a Specialist in Los Angeles
If you have a lump that is unsightly or painful, and would like more information about lump removal, please don’t hesitate to contact the Lipoma Removal Center of Excellence in Los Angeles. You can schedule a consultation with one of our world-renowned specialists by calling (888 ) 316-9905, or by filling out our online contact form.
Please visit this WebMD article for further information.
Next, read about fatty tumors.