If you have a squishy, sphere-shaped bump slightly underneath your skin, it may be a lipoma. They're an abnormal growth of fat beneath the skin. While harmless, they can sometimes be embarrassing. Thankfully, they can easily be removed at a dermatologist clinic with a quick outpatient procedure. If you think that you may have a lipoma, read on to find out more about them and how they can be treated.
What Is a Lipoma?
Your skin has a layer of fat underneath of it called subcutaneous fat. When an area of this subcutaneous fat starts growing out of control, it forms a visible, benign tumor called a lipoma.
Lipomas grow quite slowly, so they usually don't become highly visible until people reach middle age. They appear mostly related to genetics — you're more likely to get one if other people in your family have had them before. You're also more likely to get them in places where you've sustained an injury before.
How Can You Tell if You Have a Lipoma?
Lipomas are sphere-shaped bumps that are visible beneath your skin. They're soft to the touch since they're mostly comprised of fat, and you can typically shift them around underneath of your skin slightly. Most lipomas cause no pain at all, but some will hurt slightly when you touch them.
Are Lipomas Dangerous?
Since lipomas are benign tumors, they don't pose any medical danger. However, you may want to consider having your lipoma treated if it makes an area of your skin difficult to keep clean or if it's a cosmetic problem. If your lipoma causes pain and is in an area such as your underarm where it will be pressed on constantly, you may also want to consider removing it to prevent discomfort.
However, some people may mistake liposarcomas for lipomas. Liposarcomas are quite rare, but they're cancerous. They also cause an area of your fat tissue to grow excessively. However, they're usually quite painful and are typically located deeper underneath of your skin — they form shallower mound-shaped bumps rather than the sphere-shaped bumps that lipomas form.
How Does a Dermatologist Treat a Lipoma?
Your dermatologist can either surgically remove the lipoma or cut an incision into it and drain the fat out of it. Both procedures are done using local anesthesia, so they're not uncomfortable. They are also done quickly as part of an outpatient office visit. Since lipomas grow so slowly, they're unlikely to come back.
A pathologist will examine a fat sample taken from the lipoma in order to determine if the bump was a lipoma or a liposarcoma. This lets you know if the tumor was benign or cancerous.
Overall, lipomas don't cause any problems. However, you can easily have yours removed at a dermatologist clinic like Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer Specialists. It's a quick, inexpensive procedure, and it lets you know if your skin bump was a harmless lipoma or a potentially harmful liposarcoma.