A lipoma is a benign tumor which consists of fatty tissue and is located under the skin. These tumors are rather common and may affect people of all ages. Men frequently suffer from multiple lipomas while solitary lipomas are typical for women. Fortunately, only in rare cases benign lipomas can eventually turn into malignant tumors. The tumor is encapsulated and predominantly affects the upper arm, neck, torso, upper thighs, and armpits.
Patients do not notice the presence of lipoma until they grow to certain size. Some people may complain about the pain while in others lipomas are painless. These tumors are often dome shaped and may significantly vary in size. Still the average size is between 2 and 10 cm in diameter. The tumor is not fixed to the skin or surrounding tissue and can be easily moved during palpation.
The actual cause of a lipoma has not been identified yet. Still, there may be genetic predisposition to these tumors because it frequently runs in some families. And there is even evidence that minor injuries may be a cause of a lipoma.
Types of Lipoma
There are several types of lipoma. The classification is done according to their characteristics and location. Angiolipoma is a rather painful type of this benign tumor. Angiolipoleiomyoma is an isolated lipoma which apart from the fatty tissue contains connective tissue and blood vessels. Neural fibrolipoma typically occurs close to nerves and may put pressure on the affected nerve.
Chondroid lipoma affects women and appears on the legs. These tumors are yellow and commonly located deep in the tissues of the legs.
Spindle-cell lipomas most frequently affect men and they predominantly grow on the beck, neck or shoulders. On the other hand, intradermal spindle cell lipoma is mostly found in women and grows on the neck, trunk and head. Pleomorphic lipoma is a subtype of spindle cell lipoma. It usually occurs in old men.
And finally, there is hibernoma, the last type of lipoma. It is also known as fetal lipoma. It is made of brown fat tissue.
Treatment for Lipomas
In many people the tumor eventually stops growing and if it is not huge and does not bother the patient requires no therapy.
The treatment is necessary for lipomas which cause pain and are growing rapidly. Even if one is bothered with aesthetic appearance of the tumor he/ she may require removal of the tumor.
Lipomas are commonly treated surgically. The tumors are in majority of cases excised. Apart from surgical removal lipomas can be treated with liposuction and squeezing of fatty tissue.