A lipoma is a small lump of fat cells just below the skin, typically less than three centimeters in diameter. These growths do not cause pain and tend to either stay the same size or grow very slowly. While lipomas are benign and do not require treatment, there are some circumstances in which you should seek medical attention if you develop this type of growth.
How Do I Know I Have a Lipoma?
These small, rubbery yet soft lumps can develop anywhere on the body, but most commonly appear on the upper back, shoulders, arms, buttocks, and upper thighs. While anyone can develop a lipoma, they most often appear on people between the ages of 40 and 60 and are equally common among both men and women. They are also more common among people who are physically inactive as well as those who have a family history of these type of growths.
When Should I See a Doctor?
When the lipoma first develops, you should schedule a consultation to determine that it is not a more serious type of growth, such as a malignant tumor. However, you probably won’t need further medical treatment once a lipoma has been diagnosed and ruled benign. Contact our medical team right away if:
- The growth becomes painful
- Inflammation, redness, or swelling develops
- Discharge begins to drain from the growth
- It increases in size
- It becomes very noticeable or begins to interfere with your activities
Also, lipomas can sometimes develop as a side effect of more serious conditions. For example, those who have a disease called adiposis dolorosa sometimes experience multiple lipomas that press on the nerves, causing pain.
How Are Lipomas Treated?
If a member of our medical team determines that the lipoma needs to be removed, this simple procedure can be done on an outpatient basis. A local anesthetic will be injected, an incision will be made in the skin to remove the growth, and the incision will be closed with sutures. Rarely, a lipoma may need to be removed under general anesthesia. This will be determined during your consultation.
If you notice any unusual skin growth, contact Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center today to find out whether you have a lipoma and what type of treatment is necessary. If you’ve already been diagnosed with a lipoma, be sure to monitor the growth of the signs listed above.