Have you been warily eyeing a spongy skin lump? Is it making some movements awkward or uncomfortable? Maybe the bump limits your clothing choices. If the mass is highly visible, you may feel self-conscious if other people notice it.
That squishy lump could be a “lipoma.” If so, did you know that professional removal is easy? Here’s a look at fatty tumors and your options for being lipoma-free.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
A lipoma starts as a group of fat cells in soft tissue, just beneath the skin surface. It’s the most common type of subcutaneous tumor. Over time, the fat cells multiply, forming a round mass, encased in a membranous capsule.
Any skin area containing fat cells can produce a lipoma. Typical sites are the upper arms, neck, back, underarms, shoulders, torso, and upper thighs.
Thankfully, lipomas are typically benign. Unlike cancerous growths, lipomas have the same color and texture as surrounding skin. Plus, any enlargement occurs slowly, over the course of months or years.
If you prod a fatty tumor with your fingers, it feels soft and rubbery, moving with gentle pressure. The mass can elicit soreness if it presses on any nerves, blood vessels, organs, or joints. Most fatty tumors don’t exceed 2 inches in diameter, although they can grow to 8 inches.
Usually, lipomas arise in adults between the ages of 40 and 60, triggered by various factors. One is genetics. You’re more prone to fatty tumors if they run in your family. Sometimes, a mass will grow after a soft tissue injury, although scientists aren’t sure why.
Some medical conditions raise lipoma risk, including high cholesterol, glucose intolerance, diabetes, obesity, and liver disease. Multiple lumps are more likely with excessive alcohol intake.
An experienced cosmetic surgeon, such as Dr. George Solomon, can identify a fatty tumor by physical examination. To rule out cancer, the doctor may take a “biopsy,” a tissue sample for laboratory assessment. Additionally, MRI, CT, or diagnostic ultrasound may be ordered if the lump is large or expanding rapidly.
Superficial subcutaneous lipoma. Photo Credit: Jmarchn | Wikimedia Commons
Malignant fatty tumors are called “liposarcomas.” Promptly make an appointment at Solomon Cosmetic Center if a lump has any of the following traits:
- feels hard
- resists movement
- is growing quickly
- causes pain
- looks red or feels hot
- has changed color or texture
These signs are suspicious for a liposarcoma, requiring timely treatment.
Because lipomas are fat-based, home remedies cannot dissolve them. Steroid injections can shrink a lipoma, but they will not eradicate it. The only effective intervention is medical extrication.
Since a fatty tumor is self-contained, not infiltrating surrounding tissue, professional extraction is simple. At our practice, Dr. Solomon employs two methods of lipoma removal, surgical excision and liposuction.
This option is commonly used for small lipomas. First, Dr. Solomon numbs your skin with a local anesthetic. Next, he makes a small cleft in the skin, through which he extracts the mass. Then, he closes the opening with a few sutures and applies a pressure bandage.
The procedure takes between 15 minutes to an hour, the time varying by tumor size and location. You can leave the office shortly afterward, and return to work the following day.
For at least two days, avoid heavy activity, to prevent complications. For a sizeable mass, you may need to defray physical exertion for a longer period, per Dr. Solomon’s advice. Within two weeks, you return to our office for stitch removal. After healing, a thin scar is possible, but it will fade over time.
This technique removes lipomas that are large or numerous, using vacuum extraction. The advantage of liposuction is enabling access to many growths with one tiny incision. Plus, the resulting scar is much smaller than it would be with large-scale surgical removal.
Dr. Solomon administers liposuction using a VASER machine, with FDA approval since 2001. This high-tech equipment creates ultrasonic vibrations to loosen and liquefy fat cells. With VASER, sound waves selectively target only fat tissue, leaving nerves and blood vessels undisturbed.
First, Dr. Solomon applies a solution of two medicines, to both numb the skin and prevent bleeding. The anesthetic solution, called “tumescent liquid,” also aids fat removal and speeds healing.
Once your skin is numb, the doctor inserts a thin, hollow tube called a “cannula” through the incision. The tip of the cannula delivers the sound waves. After the ultrasound disrupts and liquefies the fat cells, the VASER gently suctions them out. For aftercare, follow Dr. Solomon’s instructions.
In 2017, Greek scientists evaluated the results of liposuction for lipoma removal. The research involved 22 adults, ages 32 to 74, with lipomas of the arms, legs, neck, or trunk. All the growths were large, measuring at least 2 inches in diameter.
Before the procedure, to rule out malignant cells, the tumors were biopsied and visualized with either MRI or ultrasound. Following the use of tumescent fluid, vacuum liposuction was performed, with each incision closed by sutures.
After tumor removal, the subjects returned for periodic follow-up visits, including one year later. At that time, the participants received questionnaires to rate their level of satisfaction.
In each case, there was no lipoma recurrence at one year, and all the patients reported being highly pleased with their liposuction results. The researchers concluded that liposuction is advantageous over surgical excision for avoiding large scars. The findings were published in the Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences.
You’re in good hands with George Solomon, M.D., trusted by patients throughout the Tampa area. Dr. Solomon is top cosmetic surgeon, with over two decades of experience performing cosmetic procedures. Here you can read about the doctor’s credentials and the services he offers.
Upon meeting Dr. Solomon, you’ll instantly feel at ease, with his kind, attentive, and informative manner. Vouching for his stellar skills, here are praises by elated patients, delighted with their cosmetic results.
Solomon Cosmetic Center is based in Palm Harbor, Florida, convenient to residents of Brandon, Largo, Port Richey, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, Sarasota, and Tampa. To arrange an appointment with Dr. Solomon, call us at 727-288-9988, Monday – Friday, between 9 am and 6 pm.
Just picture yourself lipoma-free. Dr. Solomon is pleased to make it possible!
Note – The information provided here is not intended to replace professional medical advice. For concerns about fatty tumors, schedule a consultation with George Solomon MD.
© 2018 Solomon Cosmetic Center. All rights reserved.