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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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…
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…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
Vitamin-D-blood-test
25-Hydroxy Vitamin D test 25-hydroxy Vitamin D test is a blood test used to measure the level of vitamin D in 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…
smelling-salts-benefits
The actual science behind smelling salts and how it helps in injury recovery Most smelling salts are a mixture of ammonium carbonate and some perfumes which are sniffed by an individual…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…
What to eat, what not to eat in the South Beach Diet? The South Beach Diet is one among the most popular weight loss programs that have been the talk…
Erythritol: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another marketing ploy? Erythritol is a popular choice of a healthy alternative sweetening agent in foods. But how healthy can a…
Carb Cycling: Weighing the pros vs the cons of this diet routine Completely discarding carbs from your life will do you more harm than good. Read more about carb cycling,…
Ear pain model
Easy and safe tips for ear wax removal you can do at home Cerumen impaction generally occurs when an external object like cotton swabs are used to remove the ear wax.…
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…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
HSV-1_IGG
Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody & stays in the blood…
Thyroid disorders
Thyroid Profile Thyroid profile is a panel of blood tests performed to check if an individual is suffering from any…
AUTOIMMUNE HEPATITIS liver
Hepatitis Profile A hepatitis profile or a hepatitis panel is a blood test that checks for markers of hepatitis infection…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Hepatitis A virus infected liver
Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) Total Blood test to look for IgM antibodies to know if you are infected with Hepatitis A virus (HAV),…
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…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
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?…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
How seitan proved to be a blessing in disguise for vegans worldwide Can only meat-eaters enjoy delicious juicy steaks and burgers? With seitan, the best meat substitute available today,even vegans…
BRAT Diet: What is the right way to follow this diarrhea-relieving diet? BRAT diet, a simple diet consisting of just bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, can help you combat the…
Epley maneuver: Why is this the best protection from the symptoms of vertigo? Epley maneuver is an exercise that can treat the symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).  It was…
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…
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…
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…
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…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
apolipoprotein a1 test
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.
AHBC Igm
Anti-Hepatitis B Core Antigen (AHBc) IgM Anti-hepatitis B core antigen (AHBC) IgM is an investigative procedure to detect the presence of IgM antibodies in…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
Unbelievable health benefits of gooseberries (and a few tasty recipes) Gooseberries are antioxidant-rich tasty fruits that can be easily added in daily diet to improve overall health and…
piles fissure fistula
Allopathy vs homeopathy vs ayurveda treatment for piles, fissures, and fistula Read to know the best form of treatment among allopathy, homeopathy,or ayurveda for piles, fissures, and fistula
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…