Lipomas are benign fatty lumps that typically develop between the skin and muscle. Lipomas are normally harmless and do not require treatment unless they become bothersome.
Lipomas typically develop on the arms, thighs, shoulders, neck, abdomen, and back; however, they can develop anywhere on the body. Most lipomas measure less than two inches in diameter and are slow growing. Unlike tumors that tend to be rigid and fixed in place, lipomas move easily under the skin and feel soft and slightly doughy. Lipomas are normally painless, but they can become painful if they contain numerous blood vessels or grow to the point that they press on the surrounding nerves.
What Causes Lipomas?
It is unclear why certain people develop lipomas; however, certain risk factors are associated with a higher incidence of lipomas, including:
- being between the ages of 40 and 60;
- having a family history of lipomas; and
- being diagnosed with certain conditions, such as Gardner’s syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or adiposis dolorosa.
How Are Lipomas Treated?
OC dermatologist Dr. Tony Nakhla may recommend treatment for lipomas that become painful or that start to grow. The most common treatment is surgical excision. Lipomas do not normally recur once they are removed. Minimal excision extraction techniques are available that result in less residual scarring and bruising. Steroid injections into the lump may help reduce the size of the lipoma. A form of liposuction using a syringe and needle can also be effective in removing the lump.
When to See a Board-Certified Dermatologist and Surgeon:
Orange County patients who notice unusual lumps or swelling anywhere on their body should consult an experienced dermatologist as soon as possible for an accurate diagnosis.