Dermatologist in New York answers patient’s question, “What is a Lipoma?”
Dr. Shelton understands that any bump or lump can be cause for concern. In the vast majority of cases, soft, raised spots on the skin that are pliable when pressed are benign.
Yet it is important to contact Dr. Ron Shelton and his team in Midtown Manhattan if you see any changes to these raised spots, or changes to your skin in general so these areas can be properly diagnosed. What you think is a harmless lipoma may actually be something else entirely.
What is a lipoma?
It’s not completely understood how this knotty, rubbery accumulation of fat cells originates. It’s believed that the tendency to develop lipomas runs in families. Some rare conditions are also characterized by the presence of many lipomas. Age is a risk factor. Lipomas are most likely to develop between the ages of 40 and 60.
Lipomas are not cancer cells. They are fat cells. They develop in the space between the skin and the underlying muscle, and frequently appear on the neck and shoulders, back and abdomen, and the limbs.
When should I schedule an appointment with Dr. Shelton?
True lipomas rarely cause pain, but can be uncomfortable should they press up against nerves or contain many blood vessels. Even if these lumps are not cause for discomfort, they may be cause for self-consciousness. You may feel they detract from your appearance, especially if they are larger than the typical lipoma or arise in very visible areas.
A good rule of thumb is if you are concerned, or notice any new spots, call Dr. Shelton. The doctor can determine the true nature of your concerns. From there, an effective course of action can be developed to fit your situation and goals.
Lipomas may be confused with liposarcomas. These are cancers, which exist in the fat cells. While this type of soft tissue tumor, like lipomas, often frequently arises in middle age and on the abdomen or thigh, a number of symptoms distinguish liposarcoma from those harmless, fatty lumps:
- These cancers may be firm
- Liposarcomas can painful (some subtypes of benign, non cancerous, lipomas are painful too)
- May be accompanied by swelling
- The area around the spot can be numb
Dr. Shelton can remove a diagnosed lipoma with a simple procedure. The affected area may be numbed and the fatty overgrowth will be accessed via a small incision and then carefully removed with a special extraction technique that Dr. Shelton is expert at doing.