Variant: Angiolipoma 變種: 血管脂肪瘤
A lipoma is a growth of fatty tissue, slowly developing just under skin. People at any age can develop lipoma but children rarely develop them. Lipoma can start on any part of the body but typically appearing on the abdomen, arms, back, neck, shoulders and thighs. They are classified as “benign growths” 良性生長 (tumors) of fatty tissue. It means a lipoma is not cancerous and rarely harmful.
The Causes and Risk Factors for Developing Lipomas
The cause of lipomas is not completely understood. The risk for people developing this type of skin lump increases if they have a family history of lipomas. This condition is most prevalent in adults between the ages of 40 and 60. Being overweight does not cause lipomas.
Certain pre-existing conditions may also increase the risk of developing lipoma such as:
Lipoma and Other Skin Growths
There are many types of skin tumors but a lipoma usually has distinct characteristics. It will generally be:
- just under the skin
- pale or colorless
- soft to the touch and move easily if prodded with your finger
Lipomas are most commonly found in the back, neck and shoulders but they can also occur on the stomach, thighs, and arms. If lipoma grows into the nerves underneath the skin, it may be painful.
Diagnosing a Lipoma
A lipoma can be easily diagnosed with a physical examination. It feels doughy and is NOT painful. Because being made up of fatty tissues, the lipoma moves easily when touched.
In some cases, a dermatologist 皮膚科醫生 might take a biopsy of the lipoma and a small portion of the tissue is scraped and sent to the lab for testing. This test is performed to ruling the possibility of cancer. Although a lipoma is NOT cancerous, in some cases resemble a “liposarcoma” 脂肪肉瘤 which is malignant (cancerous). Liposarcomas are painful, growing quickly under the skin. If a biopsy shows a suspected lipoma which may be, in fact, a liposarcoma. In such a case further testing through MRIs and CT scans are required.
Treatment on Lipoma
Lipoma usually doesn’t cause any problems. A dermatologist can treat the lump if preferred. Dermatologist will make the best treatment recommendation based on following factors:
- Size of lipoma
- Number of skin tumors you have
- Your family history of skin cancer
- Whether the lipoma is painful
If you have a large and growing skin tumor, the most common way is to remove it through surgery. Lipomas rarely grow back once they are surgically removed.
Liposuction is another option. Because lipomas being fat-based, this procedure works well to reduce its size. Liposuction involves a needle attached to a large syringe and the area is usually numbed.
Misconceptions on Lipomas
The American Cancer Society classifies lipomas as benign tumors 良性腫瘤. Tumors can be cancerous, but lipomas are NOT malignant 惡性. An existing lipoma will NOT spread through muscles or any other surrounding tissues. The condition is NOT deadly.
Skin lumps can be reduced with self-care, using ice and heat packs. But they are useless for lipomas because they are fat-based.