A lipoma is a tumour which is composed of adipose tissues. This tumour is benign and is made up of body fat. It is soft to touch and painless in most cases when touched. Hence, it is not life threatening in most occurrences. The occurrence of lipoma is not age specific, but reports suggest that they are commonly found in adults between 40 to 65 years old. There are also several cases reported wherein lipomas were found in adults younger than 40 years old and in children too. The size of lipomas varies between 0.5 centimetres to 6 centimetres, but some rare cases have had lipomas as big as 10 centimetres.
Since they occur anywhere in the human body, they have been classified into various subtypes on their characteristics. We have elaborated a few below for your understanding.
- Adeno-lipomas – these are the ones linked with the major sweat glands in our bodies.
- Chondroid lipomas – These are a little more deep seated than some other forms of lipomas. They are yellow in colour and mostly occur in women.
- Hibernomas – These are the ones that are made up of brown fat in the body.
- Intradermal Spindle Cell Lipomas – These occur on the head, neck, upper and lower extremities and mostly diagnosed in women.
- Neural Fibro Lipomas – These are the ones that occur as fatty tissues alongside the nerve trunk. Since the occurrence is along the trunk, it usually compresses the nerves, giving rise to many more health issues.
- Spindle Cell Lipomas – These are slow growing tumours that are usually found on the back, neck and shoulders of older men.
The cause of lipomas is majorly not known, however, studies conducted on some patients suggest that they could be hereditary. Studies also suggest a correlation between the HMG- IC genes which was initially only related to obesity in humans.
Treatment, most of the times, is not necessary if the lipomas are painless and do not interfere in our usual movements. However, in case the presence of lipomas results into obstruction in usual movements of the body or pain due to obstructions, it is highly recommended that you get them removed. Usually the specialist would take a sample by surgically removing one of the lipomas to run a lab test to confirm the tumour is not dangerous. Other than that, patients can get them removed if the size of the lipomas increases drastically or for aesthetic reasons.
Removal of lipomas is a small surgery under local anaesthetic. This is the most recommended procedure as it leaves very little chances of re-occurrence of lipomas. In case the lipomas are small and soft and are connected to a connective tissue component, liposuction can be done. Liposuction leaves less scarring, however, there are chances that this process could fail to remove the entire tumour and this could lead to re-occurrence of lipomas. There are newer methods that allow removal of lipomas by injecting steroids that activate lipolysis. This process shrinks the lipomas and it doesn’t really remove them completely. Lipolytic injections or Injection lipolysis is another method of treating lipomas. Here the solution is injected to destroy fat cells that cause lipomas.
Authored By Dr. Harish Prasad
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