A lipoma is a lump made of fatty tissue. These lumps usually develop between the muscle and skin, and they tend to grow slowly. Patients may notice that lipomas feel “doughy.” They're moveable and are rarely painful or tender.
Most patients begin noticing lipomas in middle age, but they may develop in younger patients as well. More than one of these growths may appear on the same patient. Lipomas are benign and don’t usually cause any problems for patients even if they remain in place for years.
Dr. Menken can usually diagnose a lipoma based on the results of a physical exam. However, if there is any question about the nature of a lump under the skin, Dr. Menken may perform a biopsy to rule out other conditions.
Doctors don’t know exactly what causes lipomas to grow. However, because this type of growth tends to run in families, a genetic cause is likely. Patients are also more likely to develop lipomas if they have Gardner’s syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or adiposis dolorosa.
Lipomas are benign and won’t turn into cancer. They don’t typically pose any danger to the patient, but they may be embarrassing or inconvenient.
Lipomas don’t usually need to be removed for medical reasons. However, many people want to have them removed anyway because of cosmetic concerns. Dr. Menken can help patients weigh the risks and benefits of having a lipoma removed or leaving it in place.
Dr. Menken can remove lipomas surgically. During this procedure, she simply accesses the growth through the skin, removes it and closes the wound. After a lipoma has been removed, it’s unlikely to recur in the same spot. However, the patient may develop new lipomas in other areas. If new lipomas develop in the future, patients can schedule another removal procedure if desired.
The risks associated with lipoma removal are small. However, some patients may experience bruising and/or scarring in the treated area.
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