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 occur 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
- Moves easily if you prod it with your finger
- Pale and colourless
- Grows 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, get infected or bother 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.
What to expect during lipoma removal surgery?
Here is some information to help you prepare for lipoma removal surgery.
Before the surgery
- Your doctor may advise you to stop your medications for a few weeks before the procedure. This is because some medications may increase a person’s chances of bleeding.
- Cut off smoking and alcohol before the procedure.
- Do not apply any cosmetics, lotions, deodorant or medicines to the affected area before the procedure.
- Fast as instructed before the procedure.
During the surgery
Your surgeon will give you an injection for local anaesthesia around the lipoma.
The procedure is usually completed within 15 minutes.
- Your surgeon makes a small incision of three to four millimetres in the skin over your lipoma.
- A curette is used to separate the lipoma from the surrounding normal tissue.
- The lipoma is completely removed.
- A pressure dressing is used to cover the wound.
- Your surgeon makes a few incisions in the skin over your lipoma.
- A light pull is applied to the flap of skin created by the incisions and your surgeon cuts off the lipoma from the surrounding normal tissue.
- The resulting tissue space is closed with absorbable suture material.
- Your skin is closed using non-absorbable sutures.
After the procedure
- You may be discharged on the day of the procedure.
- You may be required to use sanitary napkins for the bleeding for a week or so.
- Use a heat pad or warm compress to relieve the pain from the incision.
- Keep the wound clean and dry. Gently wash the wound under mild soap.
- Change the dressings on your wound after showering.
- You may apply antibiotics ointment to cleanse your surgical wound.
- You may resume your daily activities within a few days depending on the size and location where the lipoma was removed.
- Skin sutures may be removed in around 1 to 2 weeks.
Schedule a consult with our doctor Dr Ganesh Ramalingam
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