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. 

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.

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.