What is lipoma?
Could that lump on your neck be lipoma? Well, here is to put you through the nuts and bolts of lipoma. Read on. Lipoma is in the form of a lump or knot beneath the skin. It is usually the fallout of the excessive growth of fat cells. It, however, causes no pain and is usually soft and rubbery. Lipoma is categorised as a gentle tumour. By nature, such menial tumour does not worry tissues close by; there are very few cases of the resurfacing of this menial tumour after removal and they rarely pose any form of threat to life.
While a lipoma is commonly situated in the shoulders, the neck, upper back, and the abdomen, it has the ability to grow in any part of the human body.
Causes of Lipoma
Knowledge of the cause of lipoma is still weird. Asides from the understanding of lipoma being offshoots of excessive fat cell growth, other factors that contribute to the growth of lipoma are hereditary and HMG I-C gene. In situations where the growth of lipoma stems from hereditary conditions, lipomatosis is considered the underlying cause. Lipomatosis is marked by several lipomas, taking shelter in different locations of the body.
Lipoma grows within the fat tissue layers of the body. This, in a small measure, explains the correlation between body fat and the growth of lipoma. Furthermore, genetic studies of mice revealed the existence of a relationship between the HMG I-C gene and the growth of lipoma. HMG I-C gene was formerly recognised as only an obesity-causing gene. However, it has been observed that the growth of lipoma in humans is also traceable to the HMG I-C gene.
In addition to hereditary and the HMG I-C causes of lipoma, cases of injuries resulting in lipoma have also been recorded.
Types of lipoma
The bulge beneath the skin, known as lipoma is of several types. The types are as follows:
Angiolipoleiomyoma: Angiolipoleiomyoma is characterised by the formation of lipoma containing muscle cells, fat, connective tissues, and blood vessels.
Angiolipomas: By nature, this type of lipoma causes pain.
Adenolipomas: Adenolipomas is a type of lipoma linked with the sweat glands of the body.
Internal auditory canal lipomas: This type of lipomas is found in the region of the temporal bone of the skull and the inner ear.
Corpus Callosum lipoma: This form of lipoma is known as an uncommon congenital brain condition.
Chondroid lipomas: Chondroid lipomas are particularly situated in the legs of women. It is a sturdy and yellow form of tumour.
Intradermal Spindle Cell Lipomas: This type of lipoma is common in women. It is commonly located on the head, trunk, and neck.
Spindle-Cell Lipomas: The Spindle-Cell Lipomas is rampant in older men. It develops mostly in the neck, back, and shoulders.
Neural Fibrolipomas: This is an offshoot of fibro-fatty tissues in the nerve trunk.
Superficial subcutaneous lipomas: This is the most popular version of lipoma. It is found beneath the skin and can sprout in any location of the human body containing fat.
Apart from the above-listed types of lipoma, there are certain health conditions characterised by the growth of lipoma. Examples are
Madelung disease: This is also known as Benign Symmetric Lipomatosis. Men of middle-ages with history of alcoholism are prone to this development. Men and women with no prior history of alcoholism might also develop the Madelung disease.
Dercum Disease: This is known also as Adiposis Dolorasa. It is an unusual and condition that features the growth of several painful lipomas. Findings from a series of researches have observed that Dercum disease is a common condition in postmenopausal women who are obese.
The main symptom of lipoma is the soft lump, which grows beneath the skin. As earlier mentioned, the growth of lipoma is usually not associated with any form of pain safe for cases where the growth is linked the blood vessels, joints, nerves and other forms of internal organs.
Also, in cases where lipoma develops or grows far beneath the skin, it will be invisible to the bearer. Unfortunately, invisible lipoma which grows deep inside the skin beats the internal organs of the body and could result in a series of symptoms. A deeply formed lipoma in the bowel region, for example, can trigger symptoms such as constipation and vomiting.
Diagnosis of lipoma:
To reach a diagnosis of lipoma, certain tests will be conducted. The usual and quickest way of testing the presence of lipoma is via physical examination. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is also an appropriate means of viewing the growth of lipoma. The MRI can further display the anatomy within which the lipoma has developed. Other rarely used means of testing for lipoma are as follows.
Ultrasonography: Ultrasonography is also called diagnostic sonography. It is an image-based means of carrying out a lipoma diagnosis. It can provide images of the internal organs, muscles, tendons and any internal component of human where the growth of lipoma might exist.
X-ray: An X-ray is also a form of imaging test just like the MRI and the Ultrasonography.
Biopsy: This involves removing a small cell sample from the lump for the purpose of conducting a laboratory examination.
The test conducted through any of the means above will pave the way for diagnosis. Ultimately, the diagnosis will aid in deciding the ideal treatment for the lipoma.
Does lipoma give way to cancer?
There remains an inconclusive debate as to the ability of lipoma to trigger cancerous growth. Formerly, there was a common medical notion about the cancerous fat cell called liposarcoma. The former notion attributed the development of liposarcoma to lipoma. It is however now a fact that liposarcoma is an entirely distinct form of a cancerous tumour.
On the other hand, lipoma belongs to the class of benign tumours which are known to be non-cancerous. Recent studies are however tilting towards the rare possibility of lipoma being a host to pre-cancerous and cancerous cells alike.
No individual is immune to the growth of lipoma. It is especially common amongst those between the ages of 40 to 60 years. Individuals with the following conditions are much more susceptible to the growth of lipoma.
- Diabetic patients
- Obese individuals
- Individuals with liver diseases
- Individuals with high cholesterol
- Individuals with glucose intolerance
- Lack of exercise
- Family history
Time to visit your physician:
When the features of lipoma or the lump in your body begins to exhibit alien features, do not hesitate to seek medical assistance. The following are the unusual signs lipoma might exhibit.
- Rapid growth
- Producing pain
- A red colouration
- Becoming stiff and therefore non-rubbery etc.
The painless nature of lipoma makes it unnecessary to get treatment for its development. Nevertheless, in order to ascertain that the tumour is not of a liposarcoma nature and in a bid to relieve the pain emanating from it growth which could be the case with deep lipoma, treatment will be required. The forms of the treatments available for lipoma are
Liposuction: the process of conducting liposuction involves the removal of the lump with the use of needle and syringe.
Surgery: lipoma can be gotten rid of through a surgical process. Lipoma surgical process involves cutting off the fatty lump. There are uncommon cases of the reoccurrence of lipoma after surgical removal.
Simple Excision: This process of removing lipoma is less time- consuming. It is often carried out after giving a local anaesthetic to the patient.
Managing the growth of lipoma
The conventional means of treating lipoma can occur through any of the above medical treatments. Lipoma can, however, be managed through the following procedures.
Cut-back the consumption of unhealthy fat: It is known already that excessive fatty tissues give rise to lipoma. It is therefore important for individuals in the lipoma prone bracket (40 to 60 years), to minimise the consumption of unhealthy fats.
In lieu of unhealthy fats, incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into your diet: Omega-3 fatty acids are effective for tackling inflammatory conditions. It can be derived from walnuts, sardines, chia seeds, etc.
Make room for Apple Cider Vinegar: Acetic acid available in Apple Cider Vinegar prevents the accumulation of fat deposits in the body. This makes Apple Cider Vinegar, ideal for managing lipoma.
Avoid obesity: There is an established correlation between obesity and lipoma growth. Most cases of lipoma in individuals within the 40 to 60 years age bracket, arises with a surge in body fat. To avoid obesity, the following factors will be of help.
Cook and consume healthy meals: Food rich in fibre and protein will do the magic.
Minimise the consumption of sugar: Excessive consumption of sugar-based food will result in obesity and heart diseases.
Exercise: According to the World Health Organisation, about 150 minutes daily of physical activity is deemed appropriate.
The common cases of lipoma called superficial lipoma are not life-threatening. Conversely, the growth of lipoma in the internal organ poses great danger. This form of lipoma is termed deep lipoma. For instance, lipoma deeply rooted in the gastrointestinal tract can give rise to bleeding or ulceration. There is a huge possibility that deep lipoma will resurface after removal. This is due to the inability of a surgical procedure to entirely remove the deep lipoma.