Lipoma is a condition wherein benign tumors made of body fats (called adipose tissue) are noticed. This is a soft tissue tumor which is said to be common. When touched these tumors feel soft and are usually movable; they may also be gently painful. Many of such tumors are small; may not even measure 1 cm in diameter. However, they may sometimes be as large as 6 cm. Though this condition is highly common in individual between age group of 40 and 60 years, they can affect even younger individuals and children. There are debates about malignancy of the condition as some say it may convert into cancerous tumor whiles other are skeptical as there are no enough studies conducted in this case.
Types of lipoma
There are several sub-types of lipomas which are as follows.
- Adenolipomas are tumors resulted due to sweat gland.
- Angiolipoleiomyomas are acquired acral nodules composed of smooth muscle cells, blood vessels, fats as well as connective tissues
- Chondroid lipomas
- Copus callosum lipomas
- Hibernomas composed of brown fats
- Intradermal spindle cell lipomas
- Neural fibrolipomas
- Spindle cell lipomas
- Superficial subcutaneous lipomas
Causes of Lipomas
It is not understood what actually causes lipomas. This skin condition is considered to be genetic and may run in families. There may be genetic predisposition that may cause a person to develop the condition. This can be the case only if there is a history of members suffering from lipomas. According to some reports even trauma to skin may sometimes trigger growth of lipomas. However, this causing factor cannot be deemed as confirmed, according to experts.
There are other associated factors that may possibly cause lipomas; one of such conditions includes Adiposis dolorosa. This is a disease also known as Dercum’s disease which is a rare medical issue that may also lead to painful lipomas.
Lipomas are often found on torso, legs and arms of the patients. These may result out of a familial condition called lipomatosis. This is rare hereditary condition that is often characterized by development of multiple lipomas of benign nature. If there are multiple polyps developing in colon then it may indicate Gardner’s syndrome. This condition cause susceptibility to colon lipomas and may also increase risk of colon cancer.
Lipomas itself are symptoms of any causing factor. There may be other signs and symptoms associated with the condition, depending on the underlying cause. The most common symptoms of the disorder is lump growing under the skin which may be in cluster and may often be visible to naked eye. These masses commonly occur on the torso, neck, arm, thigh and armpits, etc; however, they may also sometimes develop in extremities of the body. As of now it is declared that these lumps are not cancerous and harmless.
The size of these lumps may vary from 1 centimeter to 6 centimeters. These are often smaller but in some cases it may grow over- time and become bigger. Lipomas are often circular, flattened structures that have soft rubber-like consistency when touched; it may also be slightly painful sometimes. Patient may experience pain when these lumps occur around or at vital body organs. Squeezing the lipoma may also cause pain.
Complications occur according to the location as well as the size of the associated tissues. In case if any organ is associated with the condition it may cause unknown complications. These growths are not usually considered harmful, but when pressed against nerves it may lead to excruciating pain. If lipoma is causing pain then one should seek medical attention immediately; this will help in avoiding further complications.
Tests for lipoma
There are certain diagnosing techniques that may be adopted to detect the condition. The doctor may physically examine the mass and ask about any associated symptoms. The expert may obtain a sample of the tissue for biopsy and lab examination. For confirmation of the lump the doctor may also suggest ultrasound imaging tests MRI, CT scan, etc. There slight chances that a lump that may resemble lipoma may be a cancerous condition that we know as liposarcoma. Hence, it is essential confirm the nature of the lump which can be done by consulting and doctor and diagnosing the condition.
Lipoma – treatment and cure
Lipoma is primarily treated through phosphatidylcholine injections or steroids. This would cause the size of the lipoma to decrease but it may not completely cure it. The treatment triggers lipolysis, a mechanism that breaks down the lipids. Liposuction is another suggested treatment that can be used for removing this mass. In this procedure a needle along with a large syringe is used to remove the lump. This treatment is adopted when the lipoma is soft and connective tissue component is associated. This type of treatment does not lead to scarring. However, there are chances of re-growth of the mass.
Lipoma can also be surgically removed. Such invasive treatments involve cutting of the lump. In this case once the mass has been removed there is no chance of recurrence. However, there are certain criterions that need to be considered before suggesting surgery. For example removal is generally suggested if the site is tender and painful and cannot be relieved. Surgical procedure is also suggested if there are indications of infection or foul-smelly discharge. Invasive treatment is also suggested if it hinders your daily activities, is consistently growing or it is a cosmetic concern. Patients are not hospitalized as the surgery is usually an outpatient treatment. The best treatment for lipomas can be suggested by a certified doctor; hence, consult an expert if you suffer from this condition.