Lipoma

LIPOMA elbow

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Lipomas are mainly non-cancerous growths under the skin. Though doctors are still unclear what are the exact causes of lipoma, these factors have been linked to lipoma formation - genetics, obesity, high cholesterol, liver conditions, and diabetes. Lipoma hardly causes any pain or discomfort and generally doesn’t require treatment or surgery.
In most cases, lipoma is not considered dangerous or malignant. Lipomas that lie just under the skin are harmless. But if at all the lipoma lies deep within the body (deep lipomas), these can cause pain and complications. In very rare cases, these become cancerous. The cancer affecting lipoma is called liposarcoma. If a lipoma is growing in size rapidly, it could be an early indicator of liposarcoma.
In most cases of lipomas, there are no signs of infection or inflammation. But in some rare cases, there might be some pain and redness associated with the lipoma growth. If the lipoma is growing in size, leading to painful swelling and weakness in the limb - it is a sign of liposarcoma or cancer.
Usually doctors don’t prescribe any medications or treatments for lipomas because they don’t really trigger any symptoms. In case, the lipoma is related to cosmetic concerns or causes some discomfort in terms of wearing clothes, shoes, etc then it can be removed. Larger lipomas may also require removal. The only way to remove a lipoma is by excision - the surrounding area is numbed by anesthesia after which an incision is made on the skin and the lipoma is removed.

Overview

A tumor is any kind of abnormal growth that results from the excessive multiplication of cells in a certain part of the body. Tumors can develop anywhere including the soft tissues, skin and even your bones. Some tumors are malignant. In other words, they are cancerous and can multiply uncontrollably and invade nearby tissues, giving rise to further complications. Malignant tumors may remain in situ or they may spread to other parts of the body. This process of cancer spreading to other parts of the body is known as metastasis.

Tumors that are non-cancerous are also known as ‘benign’ ones. This means that they lack the ability to invade the surrounding tissues. They cannot metastasize either. This, however, should not be taken to imply that a benign tumor cannot cause symptoms or that it cannot keep growing. The nature of symptoms caused by a benign tumor depends on its location and size. There are several different types of benign tumors. Examples of benign tumors include uterine fibroids and lipomas.

What Is A Lipoma?

LIPOMA elbowA lipoma is a kind of a benign tumor. As the name suggests, it is largely composed of fat cells. Hence, it is also referred to as a fatty tumor. This mass is surrounded by a capsule composed of fibrous tissue. Lipomas are generally located in the subcutaneous tissues although they may be situated in the deeper areas as well. Such tumors can potentially develop at any age. In fact, some individuals are even born with them. However, statistics show that most patients are between 40 and 60 years of age at the time of diagnosis.

What Causes Lipomas To Appear?

A lipoma can arise in any part of the body where adipose tissue or fat cells are present. They can also appear in organs such as the esophagus, stomach, and intestines. Some sources indicate that injury or trauma can cause a lipoma to develop at a specific spot. However, the fact remains that the true cause is unknown.

Some people can have multiple lipomas all over their bodies. This condition is referred to as lipomatosis. It is usually associated with some sort of genetic problem and may be inherited. While it has been observed that solitary lipomas tend to appear more often in women, the opposite is true for lipomatosis. An exception is Dercum’s disease, which tends to affect more women than men.

There are a few different disorders that are known to produce multiple lipomas, among other symptoms. Some of these are listed below:

  • Hereditary multiple lipomatosis.
  • Dercum’s disease.
  • Proteus syndrome.
  • Cowden syndrome.
  • Virchow’s metamorphosis.
  • Gardner’s syndrome.
  • Madelung disease.
  • Familial angiolipomatosis.
  • Familial lipodystrophy.
  • Pelvic lipomatosis.

How Do I Recognise A Lipoma?

LIPOMA smallLipomas are normally slow growing and, as they are nearly always benign, they do not metastasize. Superficial ones are often described as soft, rubbery, and well-defined masses that can be moved around a little by pressing on them. Most of the time they are painless, but certain subtypes can present with pain. These may appear singly or there may be several of them.

Those that are located deeper within the body may or may not produce symptoms. When they do, the exact nature of symptoms is dependent on the specific location of the mass. Those that grow large enough to press on nerves can produce some pain.

Is There More Than One Kind Of Lipoma?

Usually, a lipoma is made up of adipocytes or fat cells encased by a thin sheath of fibrous tissue. Sometimes, though, the fibrous capsule is absent. In such cases, the mass can infiltrate nearby muscle tissue. Such lipomas are referred to as ‘infiltrative’ in nature.

Four specific variants of lipomas are recognized on the basis of their symptoms and their attributes as observed under the microscope:

  • Adenolipoma: The tumor also includes eccrine glands which are sweat glands.
  • Angiolipoma: This type of lipoma also has blood vessels.
  • Pleomorphic lipoma: These generally affect elderly men and contain abnormal enlarged cells along with the usual adipocytes or fat cells.
  • Spindle cell lipoma: This type closely resembles a kind of a malignant tumor known as the liposarcoma.

What Tests Are Needed To Diagnose A Lipoma?

Doctors will be able to identify superficial lipomas mainly by physical examination of the lumps. However, a malignant form of tumor known as a liposarcoma tends to resemble lipomas. Hence, in order to find out whether the tumor is a lipoma or a liposarcoma, imaging and biopsy tests may be required. Alternatively, a lipoma located deeper within the body may only be identified by means of imaging tests.

The following steps may be carried out during diagnosis:

  • Physical examination.
  • Medical history.
  • Ultrasound imaging.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • Tissue biopsy.

What Treatments Are Available?

Lipomas are generally harmless but some can be painful. Unless a lipoma is causing you pain, growing too fast or creating other symptoms, your doctor may advise you to let it remain. However, you may still want to have it removed for cosmetic reasons. The procedure for the removal of a lipoma is fairly straightforward and quick. This can be done through steroid injections, surgical excision or through liposuction.

Generally, there is an occurrence of solitary lipoma but multiple lipomas too can occur and are called lipomatosis.  Studies have found that the addition of omega-3 supplement in the diet can reduce the occurrence of lipomas.  This is true since omega-3 is polyunsaturated fatty acid that is essential for the body and does not accumulate in the body and rather is utilized for various functions of the body.   Studies have claimed that the addition of omega-3 rich foods can help reduce the production of tumor cells.

Prevention

LIPOMA surgeryLipomas are some of the most common benign tumors. Generally, they are located superficially, in the subcutaneous tissues and can be easily noticed as dome-shaped, rubbery lumps. Less often, they are found within internal organs such as the heart or the stomach. These may or may not symptomatic. In case a lipoma is not giving you any trouble, you may choose to let it remain in place because it is most probably benign. However, if the lump seems to be growing very fast, you may need a biopsy in order to find out whether it is, in fact, a malignant form of tumor called a liposarcoma.

Since lipomas are generally harmless, these do not require any treatment/removal unless they are causing pain or friction with other parts of the body. If there is a growth of a lipoma internally, in the muscles, it may require surgical removal as it could be painful. Your doctor may surgically remove a small part of the lipoma to study whether it is benign or cancerous. Steroid medications may be prescribed to shrink the size of the lipoma. Liposuction may be used if the lipoma is enlarged and painful. Once removed, it is highly unlikely that they will recur in the same spot.

Facts

  • In less than 5% of people affected by lipomas, these occur in multiple sites.
  • Genetics don’t play a significant role in case of benign lipomas. But, there is a higher likelihood of malignant lipomas being transferred from parents to offspring.

Facts

  • One of the inherited conditions that results in lipoma tumors is Gardner Syndrome.
  • While the exact cause is still unknown there are several risk factors such as highly sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and family history of lipomas associated with this condition.

Facts

  • Corpus callosum lipoma is a rare manifestation of this condition where the lipoma develops in the brain, just beneath the cortex.

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Lipomas are mainly non-cancerous growths under the skin. Though doctors are still unclear what are the exact causes of lipoma, these factors have been linked to lipoma formation - genetics, obesity, high cholesterol, liver conditions, and diabetes. Lipoma hardly causes any pain or discomfort and generally doesn’t require treatment or surgery.
In most cases, lipoma is not considered dangerous or malignant. Lipomas that lie just under the skin are harmless. But if at all the lipoma lies deep within the body (deep lipomas), these can cause pain and complications. In very rare cases, these become cancerous. The cancer affecting lipoma is called liposarcoma. If a lipoma is growing in size rapidly, it could be an early indicator of liposarcoma.
In most cases of lipomas, there are no signs of infection or inflammation. But in some rare cases, there might be some pain and redness associated with the lipoma growth. If the lipoma is growing in size, leading to painful swelling and weakness in the limb - it is a sign of liposarcoma or cancer.
Usually doctors don’t prescribe any medications or treatments for lipomas because they don’t really trigger any symptoms. In case, the lipoma is related to cosmetic concerns or causes some discomfort in terms of wearing clothes, shoes, etc then it can be removed. Larger lipomas may also require removal. The only way to remove a lipoma is by excision - the surrounding area is numbed by anesthesia after which an incision is made on the skin and the lipoma is removed.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Get the lipoma removed in case it hurts or pinches against some other body part.
  • Liposurgery is an effective solution but has several side-effects such as skin pigmentation.
Don'ts
  • Fall for any remedy mentioned in websites that promise to cure or provide self-care for lipomas.
  • Indulge in self-surgery or at-home removal of the lipoma.

 

 

 

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Apolipoprotein -A1 (APO-A1) Test Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo-A1) constitutes 70% of protein content in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and helps in lipid metabolism.
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
Jackfruit: Slice your way into higher immunity, better digestion, & more… Native to the South East Asia, the jackfruit is a fruit brimming with thousands of health benefits. Discover…
Piaget stages: Do they accurately describe the way the human brain develops?  A common assumption was that children are less competent thinkers as compared to adults, but this was refuted…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…
colposcopy
Colposcopy Colposcopy is a simple, quick and non- invasive diagnostic tool to look closely inside the vulva, vagina, and…
CEA_test
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test CEA or carcinoembryonic test detects the presence of CEA antigen in your blood mainly & determines the effectiveness…
fructosamine test
Fructosamine Test A fructosamine test measures blood sugar glucose content. Fructosamine level can indicate blood sugar level in past 2-3…
leptospira Igm test
Leptospira-IgM Test A Leptospira-IgM test is a blood test which is carried out to detect anti-Leptospira IgM antibody. Leptospirosis is…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
dandelion weight loss
Caralluma Fimbriata: How to eat this cactus to lose weight Caralluma fimbriata is a miracle cactus that can be safely consumed by most for losing weight and boosting…
Coffee Enema: Turn your favorite morning beverage into a powerful colon cleanser The wonders of coffee are not just limited to waking you up every morning. You can now use…
Atkins diet weight loss
Atkins Diet: The right steps to carb control that can help you lose those pounds fast The Atkins diet is a high fat, low-carb diet with proven weight loss benefits that is flexible enough…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
chloride test
Chloride Test A chloride test of the blood checks the level of chloride in body, an important factor governing the…
complement c4 test
Anemia Profile Anemia Profile test (Basic) is a blood screening test that measures the levels of important components of the…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
Optavia diet
The features of an Optavia diet The Optavia diet endorses pre-packaged meals and snacks called "fuelings" that are tasty, low in calorie, and incorporates…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
Love tea, hate tannins? Rooibos tea is just what you need The market is brimming with a multitude of herbal teas. But what makes rooibos tea (or red bush)…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
valproic acid test
Valproic Acid Test Valproic acid test is performed to generally check for psychiatric and even neurological conditions such as bipolar disease…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
sodium blood test
Blood Sodium Test A blood sodium test measures the amount of sodium (an important electrolyte) in your body. It is also…
Coconut sugar: What is it and is it healthier than table sugar? In the long list of things that the wonderful coconut gives us, coconut sugar is another remarkable addition.…
Mood swings
The real reasons for your mood swings and how to overcome them Are you prone to heated moods frequently? Do you also feel bouts of depressive feeling creeping up on…
Quinine: How gin and tonic came to be known as a potent health elixir The discovery of quinine-containing tree bark is sometimes considered the most serendipitous medical discovery of the 17th century.
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
C-Reactive Protein Test A CRP or c-reactive protein blood test is an important diagnostic tool used to determine the risk of…
ANTIPHOSPHOLIPIDANTIBODY(APL)_IgG
Antiphospholipid (APL) antibody-IgG The Antiphospholipid Antibody testing is a blood test used to determine an autoimmune disorder called Antiphospholipid syndrome linked…
Strep throat pain
Anti-Streptolysin-O Test The ASO or Anti-Streptolysin-O is a blood test designed to check for the presence of streptococcus bacterial infection…
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…