Frequently Asked Questions About Lipoma

What is a lipoma?

A lipoma is a fatty, benign growth. While lipomas can develop almost anywhere in the body, they are typically located directly under the skin, making them easy to detect and remove. They are soft and doughy to the touch and are generally painless.

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Are lipomas cancerous?

By definition, lipomas are benign, meaning they are not cancerous and do not threaten one's health. If you suspect a growth on your body is a lipoma, it is still wise to get it checked out by a professional at the Lipoma center Los Angeles, as this will give you a full diagnosis on the exact condition.

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What causes lipomas?

At this time, it is unknown what causes lipomas to develop, although they are apparently inherited.

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Who is at risk of developing lipomas? Are they common?

Lipomas are very common, occurring in approximately 1 out of 100 people. While anyone can develop lipomas, there are risk factors that determine a higher probability of lipoma development. Despite the fact that lipomas are comprised of fatty tissue, obesity is not a risk factor.

Risk factors of lipomas include:

  • People between the ages of 40 to 60 have shown a higher tendency to develop lipomas.
  • A family history of lipomas increases the likelihood that a patient will develop lipomas.
  • Other conditions can produce lipomas, including adiposis dolorosa, Cowden syndrome, Madelung disease and Gardner’s syndrome.

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What are the symptoms of a lipoma?

As a fatty tumor directly under the skin, a lipoma is not difficult to identify. However, as with any unusual growth, it is important to seek the care of a professional so the diagnosis is 100% accurate. Until that time, these symptoms and characteristics can help patients determine the likelihood that their growth is a lipoma.

Lipoma symptoms and characteristics:

  • They are usually located directly under the skin.
  • They occur most commonly in the neck, shoulders, back, abdomen, arms and thighs.
  • They grow very slowly.
  • They feel doughy and soft.
  • They move easily when touched.
  • They are typically small, not more than two inches in diameter, but can grow to larger sizes.
  • Lipomas are typically not painful unless they press against a nerve or contain blood vessels.

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Where can lipomas develop?

Lipomas can occur almost anywhere in the body. When they are located directly under the skin, they most commonly occur in the neck, torso, upper arms, upper thighs and armpits. If you are concerned that you may have lipomas that are not visible, consult a professional who will guide you.

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How are lipomas diagnosed?

A determatologist or qualified doctor is often able to diagnose a lipoma by simply feeling it. However, this is not always 100% accurate, and further diagnostic tools may be used, including:

  • A biopsy, or tissue sample, may be done to determine the exact nature of the growth. Once a tiny sample is removed with the use of a needle, it is examined in a lab.
  • Imaging tests may be used if the growth is larger than the average lipoma, or if it has unusual features or is deeper than the fatty tissue beneath the skin. These tests may include a CT scan, MRI or ultrasound, depending on what your doctor thinks is best.

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If a lipoma is harmless, why should I get it removed?

Patients have their lipomas removed for many reasons. Especially in patients with multiple lipomas in visible places, removal is necessary for cosmetic reasons. In other patients, lipomas can become large enough to pose a physical burden.

Other reasons for lipoma removal include:

  • Painful or tender to the touch
  • Inflamed or infected
  • Draining foul-smelling discharge
  • Increasing in size
  • Simply put, a preference for not having an unusual growth in one’s body, despite the fact that the lipoma is neither visible nor painful

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How are lipomas treated?

For patients seeking removal of their lipomas, there are a number of treatment options:

  • Steroid injections can be used to reduce the size of lipomas, but it rarely eliminates them completely.
  • Because lipomas are made of fatty tissue, liposuction is a way to get rid of most of their mass. Like steroid injections, liposuction may not remove the entirety of the lipoma.
  • By far the most effective treatment is surgical removal of the lipoma. This is a brief outpatient procedure that is typically performed with local anesthetic. Because lipomas are directly beneath the skin, the incision is not deep and leaves a thin scar. Further, the doctors at the Lipoma Center Los Angeles are trained in plastic surgery techniques, giving them the ability to minimize your scar even more. Surgical removal of lipomas is short, generally lasting less than an hour. Patients can go home shortly after the surgery.

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How long is the recovery after lipoma treatment?

Because lipomas are generally located on the surface of the body, surgical removal does not cause very much trauma to the body. This means that recovery is very rapid, with patients going home the same day as their surgery. Further, patients can generally resume daily activities the very next day.

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