A lipoma is a slow-growing, fatty lump that's most often situated between your skin and the underlying muscle layer. Often a lipoma is easy to identify because it moves readily with slight finger pressure. It's doughy to touch and usually not tender. One may have more than one lipoma. Lipomas can occur at any age, but they're most often detected during middle age. A lipoma isn't cancer and is usually harmless.
The exact cause of lipomas is unknown. Lipomas tend to run in families, so genetic factors likely play a role in their development.
- Situated just under your skin. They commonly occur in the neck, shoulders, back, abdomen, arms and thighs.
- Soft and doughy to the touch. They also move easily with slight finger pressure.
- Generally small. Lipomas are typically less than 2 inches (5 centimeters) in diameter, but they can grow larger.
- Sometimes painful. Lipomas can be painful if they grow and press on nearby nerves or if they contain many blood vessels.
A lipoma may be diagnosed easily with a physical exam. This type of growth feels doughy and isn't painful. Also, since it is made up of fatty tissues, the lipoma moves easily when touched. In some cases, a dermatologist might take a biopsy of the lipoma. During this procedure, a small portion of the tissue is scraped and sent to a lab for testing. This test is done to rule out the possibility of cancer. Although a lipoma isn't cancerous, some cases resemble that of a liposarcoma, which is malignant (i.e., cancerous). Unlike lipomas, liposarcomas are painful and grow quickly under the skin.
Several factors may increase your risk of developing a lipoma, including:
- Being between 40 and 60 years old. Although lipomas can occur at any age, they're most common in this age group. Lipomas are rare in children.
- Having certain other disorders. People with other disorders, including adiposis dolorosa, Cowden syndrome and Gardner's syndrome, have an increased risk of multiple lipomas.
Often, treatment of a lipoma is not necessary, unless the tumor becomes painful or restricts movement. People opt for treatment largely for cosmetic reasons. Homoeopathy successfully treats lipomas without surgery but that greatly depends on size & location of lipoma.
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