What is a Lipoma? I am glad you asked!
A lipoma is a benign growth containing fatty cells that usually develops under the skin but can also develop in non-visible areas within the body. People may experience one lipoma in their lifetime, while others will experience many over the course of their lives. Lipomas can develop at any age; however, they are most commonly seen in adulthood and middle-life (40-60). Lipomas can appear on both men and women and they are thought to have some hereditary links as they sometimes run in families (eg. Lipomatosis is a related genetically inherited condition where 100’s of lipomas can develop all over the body).
We do not know the exact cause of why lipomas appear, but they have been associated with locations in the body where previous trauma has occurred. For example, if you get a hard blow to the skin through sports or accident, some can develop a lipoma in that traumatized area. Also, many believe that lifestyle, diet, exercise, stress, infections all play some (potential major) role in activating genes to form lipomas. The exact science is very scattered and I will be adding some references to scientific articles to this page in time and updating LipomaNET with the latest scientific advancements in the field of lipoma research.
Lipomas grow very slowly and usually develop over a number of years. They appear as dome or egg-shape structures and can span several centimeters in diameter (See figure top right of a Lipoma on the forearm). They feel smooth and soft to touch and some can have a more “rubbery” feel to them. Lipomas can appear anywhere on and in the body where there is fatty tissue but they are most commonly seen to appear on the trunk, arms, neck and shoulders.
Lipomas usually do not associate with symptoms, however, in some cases they can be painful and restrict movement or block bodily functions. This happens as they grow and put pressure on adjacent structures like blood vessels, nerves, organs and muscles tissue. The pressure they exert of surrounding structures is often what causes the pain for larger lipomas. Small lipomas can also be painful and it is not clear what causes this pain and often an issue of debate with medical experts and insurance companies as lipoma removal surgery is sometimes not covered by insurance as some insurers deem it to be cosmetic and not health issue related.
Lipomas can be removed any number of ways and the most common is surgery. Liposuction, steroid injection, collagenase injection (experimental), nutraceutical treatment (experimental), water fasting and even natural remedies have been used to combat the onset and appearance lipomas.
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