Lipoma / fatty lumps
A lipoma is a benign (non-cancerous) fatty lump, usually found just beneath the skin surface. They are made up of fat cells which clump together often in a lobular form and are generally completely harmless. Lipomas are soft or rubbery to feel, and generally are not tender or cause pain. Lipomas may occur in any part of the body and their size is very variable, from a centimetre to 10cm or more. Lipomas on the forehead are frequently mistaken for cysts. Lipomas are relatively common and can occur in people who are normal weight as well as people who are overweight.
It is not uncommon to have multiple lipomas; some people have a genetic tendency to develop this type of lump. Lipomas are slow growing and although they do not usually cause any symptoms, this type of lump may be unsightly or irritating.
Neurofibromas feel similar to lipomas and are found alongside nerve sheathes and are often multiple. They are often more sensitive than lipomas and excision may be associated with some loss of sensation in the skin area affected.
Most lipomas can be removed under local anaesthetic. It is often possible for an experienced surgeon with good surgical technique (such as Dr Doron Boone) to use a small incision to perform this surgery. The skin is closed with stiches; the specific technique used will depend on the site and size of the lump being removed. When the wound heals, it will usually leave just a fine scar. We routinely send the fatty tissue removed for analysis under the microscope (Histology). Lipomas in certain locations such as around the shoulder may be more lobulated and tethered which increases the risk of recurrence after surgical excision.