What Is a Lipoma on the Shoulder?
Lipomas can form on any part of the body. Lipomas on the shoulder are identified as a soft mass with a doughy texture to the touch; they are found on the upper torso and are determined by their location.
Shoulder lipomas are usually slow-growing benign tumours that do not present any symptoms (asymptomatic). However, it is possible that they may develop to be symptomatic and could cause various symptoms such as pain, restriction in movement or even nerve compression.
Shoulder lipomas are most commonly found on either side of the deltoids although they may also develop at any other region of the shoulder. Due to the lump’s nature and location, they would require surgical removal or treatment to excise the mass for aesthetic purposes.
Lipomas on the shoulders are also recommended to be treated should they cause pain or discomfort due to their anatomical structure.
What Causes Lipoma on the Shoulder?
The causes of a lipoma are not known. Research shows that lipomas are more prevalent in areas of the skin that may have sustained substantial impact from physical trauma. While it may be unclear as to whether the trauma would cause a lipoma to form, genetic factors are another possible cause of developing lipomas.
Records have shown that people can inherit a faulty gene from their parents that can cause the development of one or more lipomas. This rare condition is known as familial multiple lipomatosis, suggesting that genetic factors could be a cause.
Lipomas have also been observed in people to develop more frequently in people with certain medical conditions, such as:
- Gardner’s syndrome
- Cowden syndrome
- Madelung’s disease
- Adiposis dolorosa
Can a Lipoma Cause Shoulder Pain?
A person with a lipoma will usually notice a lump that is soft to the touch just beneath the skin. Lipomas usually do not cause pain unless the nature of their anatomy affects the joints, organs, nerves, or even blood vessels.
In most cases of lipoma, they are asymptomatic and will only grow in size gradually.
How Is a Shoulder Lipoma 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.
A small tissue sample (biopsy) of your lipoma is required to be taken in some cases. This sample is then sent to the laboratory for testing and will help rule out any possibility of cancer or a liposarcoma, which is malignant.
When you have a skin condition that you are unsure of, seeking medical advice would be the most sensible option to identify if your condition is a lipoma or something more serious. Lipomas may look very similar to a liposarcoma, which is a cancerous condition.
How Do You Get Rid of a Lipoma on the Shoulder?
A lipoma that is left alone usually does not cause any problems. However, it can be excised if the lump bothers you. Seeking a specialist’s advice in this field will allow you to receive the best treatment recommendation based on a variety of factors, including:
- The size of your lipoma
- The number of skin tumours you have
- Your personal and family history of skin cancer
- Whether the lipoma is painful
Lipomas can sometimes grow back even after they have been surgically removed. Lipomas are typically treated by removal through surgery. This may be especially useful if you have a large skin tumour that is still growing.
Such procedures are conducted in the doctor’s clinic or outpatient surgery centre. The surgeon will start by injecting a local anaesthetic around the lipoma before making an incision in the skin to remove the growth. The incision will then be closed with stitches.
For lipomas that are in areas of the body that cannot be reached through an incision, they may need to be removed in the operating theatre under general anaesthesia. This procedure is known as an excision.
Liposuction is another treatment option. Since lipomas are fat-based, this procedure may be effective in reducing its size. Liposuction involves a needle attached to a large syringe. The area is usually numbed prior to the procedure.
Steroid injections may also be used directly on the affected area. This treatment can shrink the lipoma, but it does not remove it altogether.
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