1 What is Lipoma?

Lipoma is a condition in which excess growth of fat cells between the skin and the fibrous capsule occurs. Lipomas usually develop slowly and are not considered to be cancerous. They can occur in any part of the body but they commonly affect the torso, neck, upper thighs, upper arms, and armpits. 

A lipoma is just an outgrowth of the skin due to deposition of fat and therefore, can be detected easily.  People can have more than one lipoma. Generally, these are soft, painless and harmless but the doctor may advise you to remove them if they trouble you. 

Lipomas can be single or multiple benign subcutaneous tumors which can be easily recognized since they are rounded, soft and lobulated. Most of the lipomas are small in shape, but at times they can grow to almost 6 cm. Lipomas are said to be composed of fat cells with a framework of connective tissues and tend to have the same morphology as normal fat cells. The angiolipomas are said to have a vascular component which can be tender in cold and ambient temperatures. These lipomas often would need excision whereas in other cases, those lipomas should be only excised if they are termed as disfigured. When the lipomas are soft, the doctor can also consider going in for liposuction since they would only have one minor connective tissue.

2 Symptoms

Soft and doughy structure which can move under slight finger pressure is the main symptom of lipoma. Lipomas can occur in any part of the body under the skin. They are small in size, less than 2 inches in diameter but can grow with time.

One may not experience pain unless it grows toward the nerves or if it affects blood vessels. Rarely, it can grow deep into the skin and can be larger than normal. Although it is a harmless condition, one should consult a doctor if he/she notices a lump or swelling in the skin.

3 Causes

The real cause of lipoma is still unknown but the family history is considered as one of the risk factors. A minor injury may also trigger the growth of lipoma. 

4 Making a Diagnosis

The doctor will examine the affected area carefully and will ask you several questions for making a clear diagnosis of lipoma. So, one should pen down the important information about his/her condition.

The doctor may ask you the following questions:

  • What symptoms you are experiencing and when did they appear first?
  • Whether it has grown in size? 
  • Is it painful?
  • Do you have any family history of lipoma? 
  • Whether you have experienced the same condition in the past?

By analysing your condition physically and  on the basis of the information provided by you, the doctor may recommend you following tests:

5 Treatment

In general, there is no requirement for the treatment for lipoma but if it grows in size and become painful, the doctor may recommend you:

  • Surgical procedure for the removal of lipoma: Recurrence is uncommon but scarring or bruising may occur.
  • Steroid injections: Steroid injections can be suggested to reduce the size of lipoma. But this treatment does not eliminate the lipoma completely.
  • Liposuction: In this type of treatment a needle and a syringe are used in order to remove the fatty lump.

For those who are looking out for a cure for lipoma without the risks of any side effects which are mostly associated with synthetic drugs or invasive procedures, then they can opt for natural remedies.

  • Turmeric: Turmeric is a widely used spice in many households, also known as Curcumin. It is an herbal remedy which is known to be used for curing lipomas naturally. Curcumin is an active ingredient found in turmeric that is known to help in the shrinkage of those fatty lumps formed on the skin. Turmeric can be applied topically as a mask for which you would need to mix turmeric powder with olive oil for creating the paste. Turmeric has been effectively used for application on lumps that have been formed on dogs, but it has also shown effectiveness in humans. Ensure to cover the paste after application with a bandage or a clean cloth since the yellow color of turmeric can lead to dyeing on the clothes.
  • Thuja: Thuja, which is a part of the cedar family, is also considered as an effective herbal remedy for lipomas. It is commonly being used as part of the homeopathic treatment in curing lipomas. This plant extract is mixed with water and then applied on the impacted area of the body. This procedure should be carried out up to three times in a day. Thuja is mostly used as an adjunctive treatment for curing lipomas along with any other natural methods of treating it, for example bringing about changes in the dietary pattern.
  • Changes in the diet: Diet is known to influence how our body would react, similarly here diet is said to influence the risk for an individual in developing lipoma. The lump is said to mostly form by the growth of fatty tissues and one can reduce the risk by cutting down the intake of fat from the diet. Consuming less of fats or no fats can also help to prevent the development of fat tissues. Hence, it is very important to replace fatty food items with fresh fruits and veggies. Also, look to avoid any kind of processed foods or those with artificial flavoring or sweeteners.
  • Sage: The sage plant is another natural remedy that has proved to be beneficial in reducing the size of the lipoma. Sage is known to have a natural affinity to the fat cells and when it is applied on the affected skin, it helps in naturally dissolving those fatty tissues which tend to form lipoma. Few of the herb experts believe that those fatty tissues which have been formed into lipomas are caused due to imbalance in the fluids present in the body and sage plant is said to bring about effective fluid balance in the body, thus helping in the prevention of the growth of lipomas.

6 Risks and Complications

There are several risk factors associated with lipoma, which include:

  • Age: although lipoma can occur at any stage, people between 40 to 60 years of age are at higher risk whereas; the disease is rarely seen in children.
  • People with other medical conditions like Adiposis Dolorosa, Cowden syndrome, or Gardner's syndrome, are at the higher risk of multiple lipomas. 
  • Persons with a family history of lipoma are at comparatively higher risk of getting lipoma.

The individual’s chances of developing lipoma would increase if they are obese. In most of the cases, obesity is known to stem from the excessive consumption of calories, which is part of the daily diet of the individual. If one tends to gain weight very quickly, then any of the existing lipomas which are present on the body would also tend to increase in size.

Those who drink large amounts of alcohol of any type are also at an increased risk for the development of single or multiple lipomas. Excess of alcohol intake can lead to an increase in the weight of the individual which is an added risk for getting lipoma.

Those individuals who find it difficult to control the level of their blood sugar are also at an increased risk of developing lipomas. In most of the cases, it has been seen that the problems related to the blood sugar is known to stem from being obese or consumption of a diet which is very poor in nutrition.

Also, there is an increase in the risk of developing lipomas if the individual tends to receive any kind of blunt injury to the soft tissues, mostly those tissues which are located in the upper or lower portion of the leg. In certain cases, it has been seen that people with lipomas were born with certain gene-related damage which triggered the formation of tumor.

Gender is also said to play an important role in the development of lipoma. Men mostly have a tendency to develop multiple lipomas which is a condition that is sometimes also referred to as Lipomatosis, whereas women generally tend to develop single lipomas, which is also known as isolated lipomas.

It is always better to speak to your doctor about the issue of obesity, how to stop consuming alcohol on a regular basis and how to control sugar levels in the body. It is recommended to inform the doctor about any new kind of or unusual skin lumps. Lipomas are said to differ from a rare form of fat-based cancer, which is known as liposarcoma. Lipomas, as discussed earlier, tend to form just below the skin whereas liposarcomas are known to form deeper in the tissues. In case the lipoma causes excessive amount of pain or it tends to increase in size gradually, then it is always recommended to visit the doctor for proper diagnosis.

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