What is a lipoma?
A lipoma is a growth of fat cells that develops under your skin. Actually, it is a benign (non-cancerous) tumor of fat cells. Lipomas grow slowly and can become very large over a period ranging from months to years. Some forms of lipomas, angiolipomas, can be painful or sore to the touch.
Where do lipomas form in the body?
A lipoma can form on any part of the body, but they typically appear on the: neck, shoulders, torso, upper thighs, upper arms, and armpits.
Do lipomas develop at a particular age?
Despite being rare for children, the development of lipomas is not restricted to a certain age. There is some evidence that certain lipomas may form after prior trauma such as a blunt force and the lipoma may not appear for many months or years after the injury. Some patients seem to have a family history of these and whereas many people who have a lipoma, only have one, some patients have many.
Why should lipomas be removed?
Patients usually want them removed for cosmetic reasons when they are unsightly but they are removed for medical reasons should they become painful, or grow quickly.
Are lipomas cancerous?
Lipomas aren't cancerous but there are very rare cases of malignant (cancerous) liposarcomas. If a lipoma has not been present very long and is growing quickly, or if a preexisting lipoma present for many years, suddenly changes size or becomes irregular or painful, it would be prudent to remove it and send the specimen to the laboratory for a diagnosis
What causes a lipoma?
What causes lipoma is not completely clear or understood but at times it can be genetic.
What are the symptoms of Lipoma?
Lipomas usually are not painful, therefore most people have no symptoms. Some lipomas are located not only underneath the skin and above the muscle, but penetrate the muscle layer. These may be more uncomfortable.
How are Lipomas treated?
The easiest and most common way to treat a lipoma is to remove it through a simple surgery under local anesthesia. Patients do not need to be hospitalised since surgery can be done as an outpatient. A dermatologist or a plastic surgeon can do the direct excision of the entire lipoma including its outer lining in order to prevent recurrence. Some doctors perform liposuction on lipomas but the chance of recurrence is greater than if it were completely removed by surgery. Kybella is FDA approved for fat dissolving in the neck but some doctors are now trying an off-label use to dissolve lipomas. It is not certain what the recurrence rate would be with this treatment.
Does lipoma excision leave a scar?
Larger excisions can leave a bigger scar, however Dr Shelton takes great effort to make as small an incision as possible to remove the entire lipoma with excellent results and a faster recovery. He has been able to remove lipomas larger than grapefruits through a half-inch incision.
*Results may vary
If you’re wondering, “What is a lipoma, and could I have it?” schedule an evaluation with your New York specialist, Dr. Ron Shelton. Call (212) 593-1818 for an appointment in Midtown.