Lipoma: Symptoms, Treatment

Overview

A
lipoma is a non-cancerous fatty lump that is normally found between the skin
and the muscle layer underneath the skin. Usually, a lipoma feels doughy and can
move very easily if there is any pressure on it. The condition can develop at
any age, but it is most commonly seen in people who are at their midlife. Moreover,
for some people, they may have not only one lipoma. Since the tumor is harmless,
treatment is unnecessary in most cases. But the doctor can have it removed if
it bothers the patient.

Although lipoma is a slow-growing benign tumor, it, in rare cases, may become a liposarcoma, which is a painful fat-cell cancer. Typically, a lipoma can be found in a patient’s neck, shoulders, back, abdomen, arms, and thighs.

As
the most common soft tissue tumor in adults, lipoma occurs in 1 in every 1,000 people.
Generally speaking, a lipoma happens most frequently in people aged 40 to 60. Moreover,
as the most common soft-tissue mass
encountered, lipomas account for 50% of
all soft-tissue masses.

Causes and Risk Factors

According to the latest studies, the exact cause of lipoma is still unknown. However, researchers and experts have found that genetic factors may play a significant role in developing a lipoma. That is to say, if you have a family history of lipomas, you might be at risk of developing the disease as well. Besides this, other kinds of diseases may also increase the risk of getting a lipoma, which includes:

  • Bannayn-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome
  • Madelung disease
  • Cowden syndrome
  • Gardner syndrome
  • Adiposis dolorosa

Symptoms

From its appearance, a lipoma usually looks like a small, soft lump. And it is normally less than 2 inches in width, but the situation can vary from individual to individual as well. Common signs and symptoms of a lipoma may include:

  • Soft and doughy to the touch
  • Small in size
  • Occasionally painful
  • Pale in color
  • Slow growth rate

If you have the above-described symptoms, you’d better go to the hospital and seek professional advice from a doctor.

Diagnosis

Before ordering imaging tests, the doctor is likely to perform a physical examination first. In this procedure, the doctor will check the lump to see if it causes any pain. To confirm a diagnosis, the doctor will use the help of MRI and CT scans.

In general, an MRI scan is the most effective imaging test for diagnosing a lipoma. CT scan uses X-rays and computer technology to produce detailed images of the body, including the bones, fat, muscles and organs. With the imaging test results, the doctor can check if there are any abnormalities and tell the difference between a lipoma and a liposarcoma.

In
some cases, a biopsy may also be done so that the sample of the tissue can be
tested in the laboratory. Thus, the doctor can rule out the possibility of
cancer.



Treatment

Usually,
a lipoma needs no treatment. However, treatment methods such as surgery may be
recommended by the doctor if the lipoma really bothers the patient or the lipoma
causes other severe symptoms, such as:

  • Very painful
  • Inflammation and infection
  • Foul-smelling discharge
  • Growing size

Based on the size, number, symptoms of a lipoma, the doctor usually tailor treatment planning for each individual. To treat a lipoma, the doctor may use the following methods:

Surgery

As the most common way of treating a lipoma, surgical treatment aims at removing the lipoma completely. Normally, after surgical removal, a lipoma rarely grows back.

Liposuction

Liposuction
is a surgical procedure that removes fat from specific areas of the body. It is
well-known in plastic surgery. In treating a lipoma, liposuction can be very
effective in reducing the size of a lipoma since the tumor is fat-based.

Steroid Injections

Steroid
injections also can reduce the size of a lipoma. The ultimate goal of this
method is to relieve pain and inflammation caused by the condition. In this
procedure, steroid injections may be used right on the affected area.

A healthy diet

To treat a lipoma, maintaining a healthy diet also plays an important role. Bitter herbs and foods such as olives, dandelion greens, and citrus peel can increase the body’s digestive ability. This would be beneficial to metabolize fat. Also, having a glass of lemon juice in the morning every day can help to eliminate toxins from the body. This way, the digestive system can function in a better way and help the condition to become better.



Keywords: lipoma.

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