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At Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital, our team of surgeons have extensive knowledge and experience handling various benign tumors, including skin lipomas. After an evaluation of your condition, our surgeons will advise and guide you towards the most appropriate treatment.
A skin lipoma is a harmless, painless, round or oval-shaped smooth bump that appears under the skin. Although they can occur on any part of the body, skin lipomas are most commonly found on the neck, upper back, shoulders, arms, buttocks, and upper thigh region. These formations develop slowly and consist of fatty tissue, which makes them feel soft and rubbery. Skin lipomas usually measure less than three inches in diameter and are commonly found in people between the ages of 40 and 60. These lumps do not cause any harm, but may sometimes be painful and/or increase in size and number. Treatment is not always imperative, but painful lipomas can and should be removed with a simple excision or liposuction procedure.
Excision: Skin lipomas are treated by the complete removal of the lump through a simple surgical procedure called excision. This is done as an outpatient procedure and involves numbing the area around the lump by injecting a local anesthetic. In the case of large lipomas or deeply located lipomas, regional or general anesthesia may be required. Once the area is numbed, a doctor will make an incision in the skin to remove the lipoma mass. Then, the incision will be stitched close, and the stitches will be removed two weeks later. Lipoma patients will be able to return home soon after the procedure, though they may need to avoid performing certain activities. A doctor will advise about specific precautions that need to be taken during the recovery period.
Liposuction: During a liposuction procedure, the area where the lipoma is located is numbed, then a doctor will make an incision on the lipoma. A thin, hollow tube (cannula) is then passed through the incision. The fatty tissue is loosened by moving the tube back and forth, and the fat is drawn up through the tube. Liposuction is helpful in reducing the size of a skin lipoma, although the likelihood of the lipoma growing back is higher than with an excision. This treatment is found to be more effective for certain types of lipomas than others, such as angiolipomas, adiposis dolorosa, and lipomas associated with Madelung's disease. The benefits of liposuction include smaller incisions and a decreased operative time.
Skin lipomas are classified into three major types:
The signs and symptoms of skin lipomas include:
A careful physical examination and a quick analysis of your medical history are often sufficient to diagnose a skin lipoma. Your doctor will ask certain questions regarding the mass and symptoms associated with it. During the physical examination of the lipoma, your doctor will check its size, consistency, and mobility, as well as changes in the skin overlying the mass. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis of a skin lipoma. A biopsy may also be advised, which would require a sample of the mass to be examined under a microscope.
Patients with a family history of skin lipoma have an increased risk of developing the condition. Other risk factors include:
The exact cause of skin lipomas is unknown. Physical trauma may be a potential cause, but it is not clear whether trauma directly leads to the formation of a skin lipoma. Inherited disorders such as Gardner syndrome can also cause multiple lipomas.
Although surgical removal is the only definitive treatment for skin lipomas, alternative treatment methods, such as herbal remedies and homeopathic medicines may help a patient gain symptomatic relief.
Homeopathy: Some of the homeopathic remedies used in the treatment of skin lipomas include Calcarea Carbonica, Sulphur, Belladonna, and Thuja. Belladonna is particularly useful if the skin lipoma is associated with pain. If using Thuja, mix the extract with water and apply directly on the lipoma 2-3 times per day.
Herbal remedies: Certain herbs are helpful in reducing the size or eliminating a skin lipomas. It is necessary to ask for your doctor’s advice before taking up any natural or alternative treatment method. Some of the herbs used in the treatment of skin lipomas include:
A person’s diet may influence the risk of developing skin lipoma, as the condition is formed by deposits of fatty tissue. You can greatly reduce the risk of developing skin lipoma by decreasing the intake of fat in your daily diet.
Do you think you may be suffering from a skin lipoma? You may learn more about skin lipoma and its treatment by getting in touch with our skilled general surgeons at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital.
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