A lipoma may be mistaken as a cyst or a tumor. This lump made up of fatty tissue grows slowly beneath the skin on areas such as the thighs, arms, abdomen, back, shoulders, or neck. Because the growth is situated above the layer of muscle, the lipoma may be easy to move with a finger. Lipomas are typically not painful, nor are they a sign of cancer. Though harmless, there are times in which removal makes sense. If a lipoma is growing or becomes tender, your dermatologist can provide treatment that meets your needs.
The development of any lump warrants professional examination
If a lump develops beneath the skin, whether painful or not, it should be examined by a dermatologist for accurate diagnosis. Typically, only a physical examination of the growth is necessary due to the obvious characteristics of this fatty growth. There are instances, however, when a biopsy may be recommended.
A biopsy takes only a few minutes. During the procedure, a small sampling of tissue or skin cells is precisely removed. The sample is sent to a lab for specific testing to rule out liposarcoma, a type of cancer. The development of a fatty lump does not necessarily mean that a person has liposarcoma. Lipomas may feel and look very similar, but are not painful, whereas a liposarcoma is.
Treating the lipoma
Unlike some other types of growths, the lipoma will not reduce in size if treated with heat or ice. This is because lipomas are made up of fatty tissue, not fluid. An existing lipoma need not be removed for health purposes. However, if the lump is bothersome, it may be removed.
Manhattan dermatologist Dr. Ron Shelton provides excellent treatment options for lipomas and many other skin concerns. The removal method for a lipoma will be determined by factors such as the location and size of the growth as well as the number of lipomas that exist. Typically, a lipoma can be removed in a minor surgical procedure.