Lipoma Surgery

When Lipoma Surgery Is Required

Lipoma surgery is it required in many instances of occurrence, and when it is, the procedure is often one that can be done in the doctor's office. A lipoma is a soft-tissue, benign, fatty tumor. Lipomas can grow anywhere in the body, and are the most common of the soft-tissue tumors. The mass of a lipoma is enclosed in a thin fibrous capsule and when lipoma surgery is required can usually be excised in a single piece.

Although it is generally assumed that lipomas are unlikely to ever become malignant, this has never been proven conclusively, and it is usually deemed advisable to have one removed if it reaches a large size. The location of a lipoma also can determine if lipoma surgery is needed. Although over half of all lipomas are subcutaneous, that is they form directly beneath the skin, they sometimes occur in a place in the body where they can become a problem, usually a problem associated with blockage of blood or other fluids. A lipoma forming in the heart will certainly have to be removed, and one forming in the gastrointestinal tract or urinary tract may require removal if it causes blockage or discomfort. A person having an esophageal lipoma may experience difficulty in swallowing, breathing, or both.

Liposarcomas - The other reason for removal is that, unless a biopsy is taken, it can at times be difficult to distinguish between the supposedly benign lipoma tumor and a liposarcoma, which is or can be a malignant tumor, one that could metastasize. A liposarcoma usually forms in an intramuscular location, so when a lipoma forms in an intramuscular location it must be suspect and is usually removed. Another reason for lipoma surgery is for cosmetic purposes and subcutaneous lipomas are almost always the type involved.

A lipoma is not the same as a cyst, which is not a tumor. Cysts are very much more common, appearing in virtually everyone at some time or in some location. Lipomas on the other hand, are present in about 1 in every 100 people. Nor is a lipoma an abscess as there is no infection involved.

Nonsurgical Procedures - Not all lipomas that are removed are done so through lipoma surgery. Lipomas are sometimes injected with steroids which causes the fatty substance to atrophy. The lipoma will then shrink noticeably, but seldom will disappear entirely. Liposuction is another non-surgical option, and usually involves a large needle and a syringe. This is often a preferred approach in areas where any potential of scarring would be unacceptable.

Surgical Procedures - Lipoma surgery usually results in a complete removal of the tumor, although in some cases compete removal may be difficult or simply unnecessary. When a subcutaneous lipoma is involved, an incision is made and the tumor is removed. If it is a very large tumor, some skin may be removed as well, as there may remain skin in excess of that required to cover the wound. For very small lipomas, a technique called enucleation may be brought into play. Enucleation is a surgical process, and involves making a very small incision, after which a medical instrument called a curette is used to free the lipoma from surrounding tissue and extract it through the incision. This method generally leaves no scarring due to the small size of the incision and a lack of any need for sutures.

Risks Of Lipoma Surgery - Lipoma surgery is in most cases low risk surgery, but much of that depends upon where the lipoma is located. In some instances there is a risk of damage to blood vessels or to nerves. Damage to the letter could result in local paresthesia or numbness. In the case where very large lipomas are removed, there is always the risk of scarring or a cosmetic deformity of one type or another. Any surgery has its attendant risks, and lipoma surgery is no exception, but the risks are generally slight.