Types of Lipomas | Minnesota

Lipoma is a benign fatty tumor that is typically not medically dangerous, but it could be quite painful and in most cases unsightly. There’s a very small chance that a lump resembling a lipoma may actually be a form of cancer called liposarcoma. Liposarcomas grow rapidly, and are usually painful.

lipomaLipomas usually form in the soft tissues under body surface. These include neck, breast, forehead, back, abdominal, arm, thigh. Lipomas can also form internally although they are much more rare, but can offer greater risk of serious complications.

While all lipomas are made up of fat, there are sub-types in the pathological perspective. Some varieties include:

  • Conventional lipoma (common, mature white fat)
  • Hibernoma (brown fat instead of the usual white fat)
  • Fibrolipoma (fat plus fibrous tissue)
  • Angiolipoma (fat plus a large amount of blood vessels)
  • Myelolipoma (fat plus tissue that makes blood cells)
  • Spindle cell lipoma (fat with cells that look like rods)
  • Pleomorphic lipoma (fat with cells of all different shapes and sizes)
  • Atypical lipoma (deeper fat with a larger number of cells)
  • Special Types of Lipomas

    • Lipomatosis is a hereditary condition in which multiple lipomas are present on the body.
    • Adiposis dolorosa (Dercum disease) is a rare medical condition involving multiple painful lipomas, swelling, and fatigue.
    • Benign symmetric lipomatosis (Madelung disease) is another condition involving lipomatosis. It nearly always appears in middle-aged males after many years of alcoholism. But, non-alcoholics and females can also be affected.

    What are lipomas? | Minnesota

    Lipomas are the most common benign tumor of the soft tissue, often presenting as soft subcutaneous masses. It is made of fat tissue. They are usually not dangerous, and in many people, there are no symptoms. These mass lesions are often removed if they become symptomatic, grow fast or for cosmetic reasons. The large majority of lipomas appear as small, single mass lesions that are usually removed by surgical excision.

    The exact cause of lipomas isn’t known. The average person might be surprised at how much stuff that medicine doesn’t have an answer for, even boring stuff like lipomas. What we do know is that it’s more likely to occur with older folks, that they appear more often after injuries, and can be linked to certain inherited diseases such as Madelung disease, Cowden syndrome, Gardner’s syndrome, and adiposis dolorosa. If it runs in the family, you might get it too.

    Lipomas can form in various locations, most commonly on the upper back, shoulders, and abdomen. However, they can form almost anywhere, from the neck, breast, forehead, scalp, arms, thighs, you name it. Most of them are found just under the skin, and thus do not cause significant problems.

    It’s the internal lipomas you might have to worry about, and those can appear in the kidney colon, pancreas, spermatic cord, in your muscles, bones, and even, god forbid, the brain. Internal lipomas are definitely a cause of urgent concern and calls for a trip to the doctor. The chances are complication are higher and you may have to get it surgically removed.

    There are multiple ways that a lipoma can be treated.

    For small lipomas, simple steroid injections applied directly to the tumor can shrink down the tumor. The fail-safe way to do it is a surgical excision, which is basically just cutting around the lipoma and physically removing it from the body. This method requires little down time, and patients can be home the same day.

    However, surgical removal of large lipomas may result in significant scarring. The minimally invasive removal of large lipomas with Liposuction technologies is a new method to excise the lipoma without scarring.

    Under tumescent local anesthesia, liposuction is performed with new lipo technologies, such as Vaser or laser. There is a small puncture wound in the skin, but no big incision. This technique is a minimally invasive and effective method of lipoma removal, resulting in an excellent cosmetic outcome.