Although Lipomas can occur at any age, they most often appear between the ages of 40 and 60 years. They are the most common soft tissue tumor found in adults and occur slightly more often in men than in women. It is possible to have more than one Lipoma.
Lipomas typically do not change after they form, and have very little potential for becoming cancerous. They often require no treatment other than observation. However, if a Lipoma is painful or continues to grow larger, it can be removed with a simple excision procedure.
There has been no proven connection between the development of Lipomas and any particular occupation or exposure to chemicals or radiation. Some doctors think that Lipomas occur more often in inactive people.
Biopsy. A biopsy is sometimes necessary to confirm the diagnosis of Lipoma. In a biopsy, a tissue sample of the tumor is taken and examined under a microscope. Your doctor may give you a local anesthetic to numb the area and take a sample using a needle. Biopsies can also be performed as a small operation.
In most cases of Lipoma, a biopsy is not necessary to confirm the diagnosis. After the Lipoma is removed, a biopsy will be done on a sample of the tissue.
Under a microscope, Lipomas often have a classic appearance with abundant mature fat cells. Sometimes there can be a small number of other cell types, too, such as cartilage or bone.
The only treatment that will completely remove a Lipoma is a simple surgical procedure called excision.
Procedure. In this procedure, a local anesthetic is typically injected around the tumor to numb the area. Large Lipomas or those that are deep may require regional anesthesia or general anesthesia. Regional anesthesia numbs a large area by injecting numbing medicine into specific nerves. General anesthesia puts you to sleep.
After the anesthesia is given, your doctor will make an incision in your skin and cut the tumor out.
Recovery. You should be able to go home soon after the procedure. You will have a few stitches, which your doctor will remove within a couple of weeks.
How long it takes you to return to most daily activities will depend on the size and location of your Lipoma. If you have any pain or discomfort, you may want to limit some activity. Your doctor will provide you with specific instructions to guide your recovery.
Recurrence. Lipomas are almost always cured by simple excision. It is unusual for a Lipoma to grow back, but if it does recur, excision is again the best treatment option.