Unwanted accumulation of fat cells in one location can lead to lumps called lipomas, which are not malignant. They can appear anywhere on the body, but the neck, shoulders, stomach, and back are where they most frequently occur. They feel soft, are formed like a spherical dome, and are situated beneath the skin. In the US, 1 in 1,000 people get lipomas, whereas 1 in 100 people in the UK do the same.
Although doctors are unsure of the exact source of lipomas, they speculate that they may be caused by a defective gene or physical damage. Unless they are deep within the body and press against organs or nerves, lipomas often don’t cause pain. It could be challenging to use the toilet due to stomach discomfort, nausea, and a lipoma around your intestines.
What are the symptoms of a lipoma?
Lipomas usually don’t hurt, but they can be uncomfortable if they grow near a nerve or joint. Many people with lipomas don’t have any symptoms. Lipomas are often:
Rounded or oval in shape
Encapsulated, which means they don’t spread to other areas
Pain-free, but some can cause discomfort, especially if they’re big or near blood vessels.
Moveable, and they sit just under the skin’s surface
Usually smaller than 2 inches across, but in rare cases, they can be much larger.
To diagnose a lipoma, your doctor will examine it and ask if it hurts. Sometimes, they’ll do a biopsy, which means taking a small lump sample to check if it’s cancerous.
Most of the time, lipomas don’t need any treatment. But if they’re causing problems, your doctor can remove them with surgery or liposuction. These procedures are safe, and you can usually go home the same day.
What is the treatment for lipomas?
Non-cancerous growths called lipomas can be surgically removed if they are causing pain. The majority of lipomas don’t need to be treated, but if you wish to have one removed, your doctor may suggest liposuction or perform surgery. Although the exact aetiology of lipomas is unknown, they might be passed on through your family. You are more likely to get a lipoma if someone in your family already has one.
What causes lipoma?
Doctors are unsure what causes lipomas, but they can be inherited from family members. Some people have conditions that cause multiple lipomas to grow on their bodies. These conditions include:
- Dercum’s disease: a rare disorder that causes painful lipomas to grow on the arms, legs, and trunk
- Gardner syndrome: a type of disorder that causes lipomas and other health problems
- Hereditary multiple lipomatosis: a condition that is inherited and causes multiple lipomas to form
- Madelung’s disease: a condition that occurs most often in men who drink too much alcohol and causes lipomas to grow around the neck and shoulders.