A lipoma is a noncancerous growth of fat cells that grow in a capsule, generally located directly below the skin. While lipomas can occur almost anywhere in the body, they are most commonly found on the armpits, upper arms, upper thighs, neck and torso. While these are benign growths, they can cause severe introversion if they are allowed to grow. The growth itself is not usually painful, but it may cause discomfort depending upon its location.
The exact cause of lipoma is not known, but it has been found that they tend to be genetic.
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Lipoma removal procedure
In many cases, lipomas may be so small that they do not require treatment. Because of their benign nature, there is no danger in an untreated lipoma. However, once a lipoma begins to get larger, it can become an unsightly burden. Further, there is always a small but finite risk that benign lipomas may change to a cancerous growth over time. One of the first indications of this is a sudden, rapid increase in size. The only way to definitively diagnose this is to remove the mass and have a pathologist look at it under the microscope. Other symptoms may become present, requiring treatment. Such symptoms include:
- The lipoma becoming tender or painful
- Infection or inflammation
- The lipoma begins to drain pus
- The lipoma becomes a physical burden
- Increase in size
There are several forms of treatment for lipomas. One such treatment is steroid injection, which will shrink the growth. This won’t, however, completely eliminate it. Another treatment is liposuction. Because the growth is filled with fatty tissue, liposuction can effectively remove the growth’s filling. However, liposuction will not remove the capsule itself leading to a fairly high risk of the lipoma returning over time.
The most effective treatment, and the type that Dr. Brenner most frequently uses, is direct surgical excision of the growth. Most lipomas are not very deep, allowing for application of local anesthesia. Once this is applied, an incision is made in the skin, the lipoma is removed, and the skin is stitched up.
However, a lipoma may reside deeper in the body and is not so easily removed. In this case, the lipoma will require more involved surgery under general anesthesia, and will be done in an operating room.