A lipoma is a slow-growing, round, or oval-shaped lump of tissue that grows beneath the skin and underlying muscle layer. It is composed of fat, moves quickly applying pressure with fingers, and doesn't cause any pain. Lipomas can be present anywhere on the body, but they're primarily seen on the back, trunk, arms, shoulders, and neck. They are generally detected in middle age.
Lipomas are benign soft tissue tumours that grow slowly and are not cancerous. Therefore, most lipomas don't require treatment. However, if a lipoma is bothering you, the doctor can remove it on an outpatient basis.
They usually appear as small, soft lumps of rubbery tissue and are less than 2 inches wide, but they grow up to 6 inches in rare cases.
They are generally painless but can cause pain if they bump against nearby nerves, have blood vessels running through them, or develop near a joint.
This is because they don't spread to the tissues surrounding them.
The exact cause behind lipoma formation in the body isn't known. However, it is believed that it can be hereditary. In addition, some conditions give rise to multiple lipomas forming on the body. These include:
Dercum's disease is a rare disorder that causes painful lipomas to grow most often on the arms, legs, and trunk. It's also termed Adiposis Dolorosa or Anders’ syndrome.
Hereditary multiple lipomatosis: This is also called Familial Multiple Lipomatosis, and this form of the disorder is genetically inherited (passed down through families).|
Madelung's disease: This condition mostly occurs in men, compared to women, who drink excessive alcohol. It is also called multiple symmetric lipomatosis. Madelung's disease causes lipomas to grow and appear around the neck and shoulders.
All lipomas are composed of fat. Certain lipomas also contain blood vessels or other tissues. There are several types of lipomas, depending on their composition. These include:
Angiolipoma: This type of Lipoma contains fat and blood vessels. They are often painful.
Conventional: They are the most common form of lipomas. A conventional lipoma contains white fat cells which store energy.
Fibrolipoma: This type of Lipoma comprisesfat and fibrous tissue.
Hibernoma: This kind of Lipoma comprises brown fat, whereas other lipomas have white fat. It helps in the generation of heat and regulates body temperature as well.
Myelolipoma: These lipomas comprise fat and tissues that assemble blood cells.
Spindle cell: The fat cells present in these lipomas are longer than wide as others.
Pleomorphic: These lipomas have fat cells of variable sizes and shapes.
Atypical Lipoma: These contain deeper fat and a large number of cells.
To diagnose a lipoma, your doctor may perform:
A physical exam: It is done by palpation of the Lipoma to check whether it's painful or not.
Biopsy: A tissue sample removal of the Lipoma for lab examination to detect whether it is cancerous or not.
An Ultrasound or other imaging tests like an MRI or CT scan to get a clearer picture of whether the Lipoma has unusual features or is a cyst.
There's a minimal chance that a lump resembling a lipoma may be a form of cancer called liposarcoma, which are cancerous tumours in fatty tissue, multiplies, don't move under the skin, and are usually painful. However, a biopsy, MRI, or CT scan is typically done if your doctor suspects liposarcoma.
It is impossible to reduce the size of a lipoma with self-care. Warm compresses may work for other skin lumps, but they are not helpful for lipomas, as they are a collection of fat cells.
Since lipomas aren't harmful in nature, doctors often tend to leave them alone on their fate. Generally, no such treatment is required to treat Lipoma. However, if the Lipoma is painful or hurts a lot or doesn't like the way it looks, then surgical removal of Lipoma is recommended. The doctor can take it out surgically with a small incision. The patient should be able to go home after the removal of Lipoma. However, the patient may have to go back to the doctor within a couple of weeks to get the stitches removed. Other possible treatments include:
Steroids: They help shrink a tumour.
Liposuction: The doctor draws out the fatty tissue with the help of a needle and syringe.
There are plenty of risk factors involved in the precipitation of Lipoma. The following conditions may lead to the development of lipomas:
Many people tend to live with lipomas, and they may not even notice them as it doesn't bother them in their daily life. Most lipomas don’t need treatment, but doctors can remove them surgically if required. Lipomas rarely grow back after the completion of therapy, but if they grow again, they may grow in a different spot on your body.Therefore, it is essential to seek medical advice if a lipoma becomes painful, gets more prominent, or changes in any other way.