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.

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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lipoprotein A
Lipoprotein (A) Test Lipoprotein (A) test is used to measure and monitor the levels of LDL(Low-Density Lipoprotein) in the bloodstream in…
Ca 19.9 test
CA19.9 Test CA 19.9 is a cancer antigen that exists on the surface of cancer-causing cells. The levels of CA…
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.
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
malarial antigen test
Malaria Antigen Test A malaria antigen test is a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) that can detect malarial antigens (proteins) in your…
CERULOPLASMIN- triple marker
Triple Marker Test A triple marker test is an important prenatal test that is performed to detect the presence of chromosomal…
EMG electromyography
EMG- Electromyography EMG detects the presence, location, and extent of diseases that damage the nerves such motor neuron disease. Electromyography…
Vitamin b12
Vitamin B12 Test Vitamin b12 is an essential nutrient required for healthy functioning of the nervous system and also development of…
Hibiscus: Nourish your beauty and health with these vibrant blooms Hibiscus is a trumpet shaped flower found abundantly in tropical countries. It has been historically used for its…
Helicobacter pylori IGA
Helicobacter Pylori – IgA Test The H.pylori IgA test is a blood test used to identify the level of IgA antigen in the…
Goji berry: A traditional Chinese berry that packs the best of antioxidants Goji berry is an ancient berry that is considered to be power-packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Which means…
amylase test
Amylase Test Amylase test is done by checking the level of this protein in the blood sample and also in…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
Spinach: The ultimate way to boost health with this green superfood! Spinach is a green superfood that ranks high in both taste and nutrition. Read more to discover how…
Top 6 remedies to treat a razor burn at home Symptoms of razor burn include bumps on the skin, redness, and irritation of the skin. Find easy and…
hYdroxycut pills
Hydroxycut: How safe are these so-called weight loss supplements? Hydroxycut is a blend of several different ingredients formulated to promote weight loss; powered by a key weight…
top 10 deadliest diseases
What are the top 10 deadliest diseases and what is causing them? What are the largest killers of human lives across the globe? Which diseases are the most fatal ones?…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
Oil of Oregano: The one-stop essential oil you’ve been looking for Are you plagued by a weak immune system? High body inflammation accompanied by pain and infections? Why not…
Period sanitary napkin-menstruaion-blood-colors
Period blood – what it says about your health Your period blood color and consistency indicate what is happening in your body. Is your blood bright red…
Fibromyalgia fatigue
HCG Diet: The dangers of using this diet to lose weight HCG is a natural hormone produced by both men and women that corresponds to fertility. But how is…
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…
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…
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…
Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes with a plethora…
Turner syndrome and infertility
Infertility profile (women) The infertility profile tests in women are conducted to form a complete picture of the hormonal balance and…
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…
Diabetes blood test
Diabetic Profile The diabetic profile is a set of tests used for testing and monitoring the various kinds of Diabetes…
Bronchoscopy procedure
Bronchoscopy Bronchoscopy is a procedure where in a scope is inserted into the lung pathway to observe any growth…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
Keto diet healthy
Keto Diet: Did you know you could eat fats to burn fats? Keto diet - A wonder diet that lets you eat fats and lose weight too! Read on to…
Echocardiogram
Echocardiography – ECHO Echocardiography (commonly known as ECHO) is an imaging modality (similar to ultrasonography) used to visualize the interior of…
creatinine
Creatinine Test The level of creatinine in the blood is a significant indicator of the health of your kidneys. This…
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…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
beta hcg test
Beta hCG Test A Beta hCG test measures the level of human gonadotropin hormones present in the blood that is primarliy…
GM Diet: The fastest way to lose weight or yet another hoax diet? General Motors started this trend of extreme dieting for 7 straight days to ensure its employees were able…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main theme of general…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket Dragon fruit is packed with nutrients but low on calories. It is the dream food that can help…
blood ketone test
Blood Ketone (D3HB) Test The Blood Ketone Test measures and monitors the levels of ketone in the blood which is usually performed…
Astaxanthin: Why experts believe it could be 550x more potent than vitamin E! What is astaxanthin and why is this new supplement on the block touted as the most powerful antioxidant…
cytomegalovirus iGG
Cytomegalovirus (CMV)- IgG Test The cytomegalovirus IgG is the immunoglobulin protein produced by our immune system when the body is infected by…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
C-Reactive Protein Test A CRP or c-reactive protein blood test is an important diagnostic tool used to determine the risk of…
understanding addiction
Addiction explained: An obsession that could cost you your life Is addiction a behavioral disorder? Or is it a chronic disease? How does addiction cause chemical and structural…
chloride test
Chloride Test A chloride test of the blood checks the level of chloride in body, an important factor governing the…
kidney stones
Kidney stones Kidney stones are solid substances made up of crystals. They can be of various sizes. Treatment depend on…
cytomegalovirus igm test
Cytomegalo Virus (CMV) – IgM Test The CMV antibodies include both IgM and IgG antibodies which are the immune system's response to a CMV…
tonometry
Tonometry Tonometry uses a device called tonometer to measure the pressure inside the eye. This pressure is depends upon…
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…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
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…
Tamarind: The top health benefits of this staple Asian ingredient Did you know this sweet and sour pulpy fruit does more than just add a tangy flavor to…
valproic acid test
Valproic Acid Test Valproic acid test is performed to generally check for psychiatric and even neurological conditions such as bipolar disease…
Anti-Inflammatory foods: 18 foods to a disease-free you Anti-inflammatory foods are the foods which are known to reduce the inflammation as well as the pain from…
The Shepherd's diet
Facts about the Shepherd’s diet Kristina Wilds promoted Shepherd's diet, a Christian-based diet that highlights Jesus Christ's diet as mentioned in the Bible.
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
colposcopy
Colposcopy Colposcopy is a simple, quick and non- invasive diagnostic tool to look closely inside the vulva, vagina, and…

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