What is a skin lipoma?
A skin lipoma is a soft, fatty growth which develops under your skin. It can be found anywhere on your body, but usually forms on your neck, shoulders or back. A lipoma typically feels soft and does not cause any pain.
Who gets lipomas?
Lipomas occurs across all age groups but most commonly appear in those aged 40 to 60. You are also at risk of developing lipomas if you have a genetic history of lipomas. Certain conditions such as adiposis dolorosa, Madelung’s disease, Cowden syndrome and Gardner’s syndrome also increase your risk of developing lipomas.
The exact cause of a skin lipoma is unknown, but it may be triggered off by a minor injury.
How do I know if the lump on my skin is a lipoma?
There are some distinct characteristics of lipoma. If you suspect that it is a lipoma, it should be
- just under the skin
- soft to the touch
- move easily if you prod it with your finger
- pale and colourless
- grow very slowly
Note: Do consult your doctor if you notice any changes in your skin. Lipomas may look very similar to a liposarcoma, which is a cancerous condition.
How are skin lipomas diagnosed?
Skin lipomas are diagnosed during a physical examination done by your doctor. However, your doctor may want to remove it to ensure the growth is not cancerous.
In some cases, a small tissue sample (biopsy) of your lipoma is taken. What happens is that this is sent to the laboratory for testing. This will rule out any possibility of cancer or it being a liposarcoma, which is malignant.
Why undergo surgery for removal of skin lipomas?
Lipomas sometimes cause pain, gets infected or bothers you. At other times, there may be uncertainty over whether your skin growth is a lipoma. In cases like these, it is recommended that you get it removed. If the lipoma is in an obvious place or grows too large, it can also be removed for cosmetic reasons.
Lipomas rarely grow back once they have been removed through surgery.