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Everything You Need to Know About Lipomas

Dr. Zahra Shah

2 min read

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Lipomas are what form when a lump of fat starts growing in the soft tissue of the body, usually just underneath the skin. As common as 1 in 1,000, Lipomas are harmless tumors that appear as soft, fatty lumps in the neck, shoulders, back, abdomen, and upper thighs.

Other less common locations include the arms, armpits, and buttocks. Sometimes, more than one lipoma may develop. If you feel a lipoma developing, consult your dermatologist.

Symptoms:

  • Pale or colorless
  • Grow slowly, often over months or years.
  • Feel doughy and move easily when pushed with fingers.
  • Small, i.e. less than 2 inches in diameter, but may sometimes increase to as much as 8 inches.
  • Aren’t usually painful, but may cause pain if blood vessels run through them or if pressing against nearby nerves.

Risk Factors:

Although everyone develops a lipoma at least once in their lives, they are more likely in:

  • Case of any physical injury
  • People with a family history of lipomas
  • Men and women between 40-60. In some cases, they may be also be present at birth.
  • Hereditary conditions, specifically Madelung’s Disease, Gardner’s Syndrome, Cowden Syndrome, and Hereditary Lipomatosis; all of which are characterized by multiple small and large lipomas in different parts of the body.

Large Lipomas:

Used to define lipomas greater than 2 inches, large or ‘giant’ lipomas can cause nerve pain by pressing into nearby nerves and may make it difficult for clothes to fit, such as when formed in the arm, neck or buttocks.

In rare cases they may form inside the muscles or internal organs and require surgical removal due to the pain (Deep Lipomas).

Liposarcoma:

Not all tumors are fatal, particularly lipomas, which normally stay in the same place where they form instead of moving to other places in the body. However, in extremely rare cases, some painful, cancerous lumps called ‘Liposarcoma’ can be mistaken as deep lipomas may be mistaken for. Therefore, a lipoma that is unusually painful and/or grows rapidly should be examined immediately by a doctor.

Treatment:

Being harmless, most lipomas usually don’t require medical intervention. However, in case of considerable pain, a personal or family history of skin cancer, or a large lump size, the following treatment options are available for lipoma treatment:

1-Minimal Excision Extraction:

Lipomas that are either painful, visually unappealing, or continue to grow can be removed surgically. The procedure involves numbing the area of the lipoma’s location, making a small incision, extracting the lump, and stitching the incision site after. Patients usually go home right after surgery, and stitches are removed after 2 weeks.

Giant or deep lipomas are more difficult to remove and often require general (full-body) anesthesia. Lipomas do not recur after surgery, with minor scarring and bruising as the only side-effect. If you wish to undergo this procedure make sure to contact the best general surgeon in Karachi.

2-Liposuction:

This common cosmetic procedure can also be used for reducing the size of a lipoma. A needle and large syringe are used to extract fatty tissue from the lipoma’s location after numbing the area. Like excision surgery, liposuction is also a minor procedure.

3-Steroids:

Injecting steroids right over the lipoma can effectively reduce the size of the lump, although it is not completely removed, unlike excision surgery.

Note: A lipoma can only be reduced or removed using the above 3 procedures. Ice packs, heat packs, and other home remedies cannot reduce lipomas as they are made of fat which does not respond to any medication or external pressure.

Although lipomas are mostly harmless, remember to get a medical consultation if you notice any unusual lump or swelling anywhere on your body to get an accurate diagnosis.

You can also book an appointment with a top Dermatologist in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your dermal concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Zahra Shah - Author Dr. Zahra Shah is among the Best Dermatologists in Karachi. Dr. Zahra Shah attained her Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery Degree from the Dow University of Health Sciences and subsequently went on to qualify as a Specialist dermatologist accredited by the Specialist Accreditation Board, United Kingdom.
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