A lipoma is a benign tumor made of fat cells that appears as a soft lump beneath the skin. It usually forms on the upper back and thighs, shoulders, arms, and buttocks. Occasionally, it may be located deeper beneath the skin in the thighs, shoulders, or calves.
In most patients, lipomas are painless. They don’t usually change after they form and generally won’t become cancerous. They can, however, continue to grow over time, which may cause pain if they begin to press against a nerve.
You can be diagnosed with one of several forms of lipoma, including a conventional lipoma, hibernoma, fibrolipoma, angliolipoma, myelolipoma, spindle cell lipoma, pleomorphic lipoma, or an atypical lipoma.
There currently isn’t much evidence to indicate why most lipomas develop. Conventional, spindle cell, and pleomorphic lipomas are linked to genetic defects and may be passed down by family members.
In most cases, treatment is not required for a lipoma beyond periodic observation, as they pose little risk to the patient. However, for patients who want or need a lipoma to be removed due to pain, discomfort, visual appearance, or signs that the tumor is becoming cancerous, the only way to do so is through surgery.
During the excision of a lipoma, the area where the tumor is located is numbed with local anesthetic, the surgeon makes an incision, and the growth is removed. If the tumor is large, you may be administered general anesthesia and put to sleep for the duration of the procedure. This surgery prevents the lipoma from returning in most cases.
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