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Lipomas are soft, fatty lumps that form beneath the skin.
Check if you have a lipoma
They’re usually soft and doughy to the touch and tend to grow to no bigger than one or two inches wide. Although technically classed as a form of tumour, in the majority of cases, lipomas are completely harmless and benign. However, it’s always advised to get any new or unusual lumps and bumps checked out by a doctor, just to be on the safe side.
Treating lipomas isn’t always necessary, and since they often don’t cause any problems, they’re often just left alone. It is possible to surgically remove them though, and this may be carried out for a number of reasons. Lipomas may sometimes become sore or uncomfortable, if they’re aggravating a nerve or there are blood vessels running through them, for instance. Also, some people may choose to have them removed for cosmetic reasons.
Removing lipomas can usually be done on a day case basis with local anaesthetic. This means you’ll be able to go home shortly afterwards, and while you won’t be asleep for the procedure, you shouldn’t feel any pain. Sometimes, a very fine scalpel is used to carefully cut out the lipoma, or liposuction techniques, using a needle and syringe, can be used to suck the fatty tissue out. Using minimally invasive techniques means any scarring should be minimal – although it’s normal for the area to be bruised and sore for a few days afterwards.
Larger lipomas may sometimes need to be surgically removed under general anaesthetic, although this is less common. The lipoma may be sent to the lab for testing afterwards, but it is very rare that any cause for concern is detected. Also, once removed, lipomas rarely grow back so the treatment is usually permanent.