Lipoma Removal Options: Excision, Steroid Injections & Liposuction
What if one day as you were getting dressed you noticed a lump that was never there before? Many people might become panicked, but more often than not, a bump under the skin is actually a benign tumor called a lipoma. It’s made of fatty tissue and tends to grow slowly over months or years. Lipomas are commonly found during a physical examination for other types of medical issues or can become noticeable once they grow large enough to be noticed.
Lipomas are commonly found in individuals between the ages of 40 and 60. Women are more prone to developing a singular lipoma while men often develop them in clusters. The growth of lipomas can be linked to genetic factors and some physicians also believe they develop as a response to bodily trauma. Those who have specific medical conditions like Gardner syndrome or Cowden syndrome may also be more prone to lipomas.
Since a lipoma is a section of fatty tissue that lies between your muscle and skin, they can form anywhere, though are most common around their shoulders, arms, upper back, or upper thighs. They feel soft and almost dough-like in nature, and typically don’t cause any pain.
Lipomas are almost always benign, meaning that they could be left alone as long as they aren’t causing any issues.
Physicians are able to easily diagnose a lipoma simply by observation and touching it. If the individual chooses to have it removed, there are several options available. It’s important to remember that it’s never advised to try to pop a lipoma or any kind of cyst — these growths can be very close to nerve endings and you risk creating a complication if you attempt to pop or remove it yourself.
Removing Your Lipoma by Excision Surgery
Surgically removing a lipoma, called an excision, is a very straightforward process and often results in a complete cure, whereas other options might allow for the lipoma to regrow. Your physician will draw an outline of the tumor as well as indicate the incision point, then cleanse your skin thoroughly.
A local anesthetic is administered to minimize the pain of the procedure. Using a scalpel, your surgeon will access the lipoma and cut it away from the surrounding tissue and fat. Smaller lipomas can be removed using a much smaller incision, minimizing your recovery time and sometimes even allowing you to forego the need for stitches.
After the procedure, you’ll go home with wound care instructions and will have a follow-up appointment anywhere from two to seven days later. Depending on where your lipoma was on the body, any stitches will be removed between seven and 21 days after the procedure.
Additional Treatment Options
Some individuals may not want to undergo surgery to remove a lipoma but could still have the desire to significantly minimize it. Your physician might recommend steroid injections to shrink the tumor, and in some cases, this treatment can completely eliminate a lipoma. Most doctors will utilize this treatment on lipomas that are less than 1” in diameter, and the volume and frequency of the steroid injection will vary. Many individuals start to see results in as little as three to four weeks.
Larger lipomas may also be reduced in size through liposuction, and while this is more invasive than a simple injection, it’s often a preferred method for those who want to avoid surgery and reduce scarring. Most lipomas treated in this manner do not completely disappear, although their size can be dramatically reduced.
When in Doubt, Get Checked Out
Lipomas are common among adults, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid seeing a doctor if you suspect you have one. A simple examination will determine the best course of treatment and you’ll be able to have peace of min