More than 1% of the population has at least one lipoma. Lipomas are lumps of fatty tissue that grow under the skin, feel rubbery, and move easily when touched. If you have a lipoma that might need removing, learning more about it and what the removal procedure entails can be helpful.
What Causes Lipomas to Form?
The cause of lipomas isn’t fully understood. Lipomas often appear after an injury, but some conditions can also increase the chances of developing them, including:
- Gardner’s syndrome
- Dercum’s disease
- Madelung’s disease
- Hereditary multiple lipomatosis
Additionally, hereditary factors may affect whether you develop one, with 2% of people who develop a lipoma having a family history of these benign neoplasms.
Some scientists believe that lipomas may start as deposits of fat cells that then multiply, while others think the culprits are normal fat cells gradually increasing in size.
Is Lipoma Removal Serious?
Lipoma removal procedures — excisions — are safe and effective. Most people require only local anesthesia, allowing you to return home on the same day. The removal can involve incisions that offer quick access to the lipoma or liposuction that removes fatty tissue from the growth.
If the lipoma is large or located in a more complex area to access, you may need general anesthesia. The lipoma removal procedure can last as little as 30 minutes for smaller lipomas, while larger ones can take two hours or more.
Can a Lipoma Become Cancerous?
Although most lipomas are benign, there’s a chance they may become cancerous. If you see that the lipoma grows quickly, if it causes discomfort, or if you have a family history of cancer, removal may be the best option.
Generally speaking, a lipoma over 6cm or deep should be removed due to concern for cancer.
Are Lipomas Worth Removing?
Lipomas are usually benign, but you may want to remove them to eliminate the risk of them becoming cancerous. You may also have aesthetic reasons for removal if the lipoma is in a visible area of the body.
If it’s growing rapidly, causing discomfort, or affecting your mobility or everyday life, you may also consider excising it.
How Painful Is a Lipoma Removal?
When undergoing a lipoma removal, you will receive local anesthesia (numbing shots) to keep you comfortable. After the procedure, cold compresses are usually enough to deal with any discomfort. You will want to avoid strenuous exercise as you heal to aid in the healing process.
How Long Is the Lipoma Removal Recovery Process?
Recovering from a lipoma removal is fast, and you can return to most of your daily activities within one to three days after the procedure. The recovery could take longer if you had a large lipoma requiring more extensive surgery or one located in a mobile area like a foot.
To speed up the recovery process, avoid blood-thinning medications, alcohol, and smoking for a few days. Depending on the location of the lipoma, you may need to avoid driving as you recover.
Turn to Dr. Gandolfi for Lipoma Removal
If you have a lipoma that affects the way you look or causes discomfort, you can benefit from an excision. Lipoma removal is a simple procedure with a quick recovery that can provide you with the aesthetic results you want or peace of mind.
Dr. Brad Gandolfi is a double board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon with offices located in New York City and Englewood, NJ. He specializes in cosmetic surgery and is a distinguished member of The Aesthetic Society, a by-invitation-only society for doctors with experience and excellence in cosmetic surgery. Learn more about lipoma removal and schedule a consultation with Dr. Gandolfi today.