What treatment options are available for lipoma removal?

A lipoma is a fatty, slow-growing tumor that develops under the skin. It is usually located between the skin and the layer of muscle that underlies the skin. Slight pressure from a finger or hand will move the lump, making a lipoma easy for a dermatologist to identify.

Lipomas are not cancerous growths and they are usually harmless. Unless a tumor is bothersome or continues to grow, treatment is rarely necessary. If a lipoma causes pain, however, a dermatologist can remove it.

How a dermatologist can identify a lipoma

Most lipomas grow under the skin. Although they can occur almost anywhere in the body, they are most common in the back, neck, shoulders, abdomen, arms and thighs.

Lipomas are small, soft and mushy growths. They move easily under slight pressure. Most lipomas are less than two inches in diameter, but some grow much larger in size.Lipomas rarely cause pain unless they press on a nerve or contain blood vessels. They are not a serious health problem. However, it is important to see a doctor any time a lump develops in the body.

Who is at risk for lipomas?

Doctors do not know the exact cause of lipomas. Because they often run in families, dermatologists think genetics may play a role in their development.Age increases the risk of developing tumors under the skin. Lipomas are most common in people between the ages of 40 and 60. Cowden syndrome, Gardner’s syndrome, Madelung disease and other medical conditions are also risk factors.

Lipomas are benign tumors, but there is always a chance that a lump under the skin may be a cancerous growth called liposarcoma. A biopsy or imaging test can help doctors rule out cancer.
Because lipomas are benign growths and are generally small in size, treatment is rarely needed. However, some lipomas can cause pain or may continue to grow in size. In these cases, most dermatologists recommend their removal.

Surgery and liposuction are two common methods of treating lipoma. Most tumors are removed surgically by cutting them away. Recurrences are uncommon after surgical removal.

You should always get lumps checked out by your doctor. If your lump is identified as a lipoma, your doctor can offer you treatment options, if necessary.

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