You may not have heard of lipomas until you were officially diagnosed with one, but these round, fatty lumps are among the most common benign (noncancerous) growths that develop beneath the skin. In fact, millions of people worldwide — or an estimated 1 in 1,000 adults — have at least one lipoma somewhere on their body.
Most lipomas don’t require treatment because they’re small, inconspicuous, painless, and totally harmless. You may opt to have the rubbery bulge removed, however, if it’s irritating, painful, prominent, or you simply don’t like how it looks.
Dr. Johnny L. Serrano, your board-certified general surgeon in Glendale, Arizona, offers in-office lipoma removal at Precision Surgery and Advanced Vein Therapy. Here are four things he’d like you to know about this safe and highly effective treatment solution.
Unlike many other soft tissue tumors, lipomas are encapsulated. In other words, the fat cells that clump together to form a lipoma are contained by a thin, fibrous capsule that stretches as the fat cells accumulate. It’s the capsule that gives these fatty lumps their symmetrical round or oval shape.
Besides preventing the growth from invading surrounding tissues, this thin casing makes it much easier to excise a lipoma. In most cases, Dr. Serrano can simply numb the area with a local anesthetic, make a small incision over the growth, carefully free the encased lipoma from surrounding tissues, and gently pull it out.
Lipoma removal is a quick in-office procedure: Once local anesthesia has sufficiently numbed the treatment area, it typically takes no longer than an hour to complete. This even holds true for rarer lipomas that contain blood vessels within their fatty mound (angiolipomas).
In most cases, lipomas are removed through a small incision that doesn’t require standard sutures (stitches). Instead, the incision may be closed with surgical adhesive tape, tissue glue, or dissolving stitches. A pressure dressing over the area helps prevent the formation of a blood clot (hematoma) in the empty space left by the lipoma.
Smaller non-infiltrating lipomas — or those that measure less than 3 inches across and don’t extend deep into your skin tissue — are easier to remove than large or infiltrating lipomas. If you have an unwanted lipoma that seems to be changing or growing, it’s best to seek surgical treatment sooner, rather than waiting for it to grow even larger.
Large lipomas, or those that are 3 inches or bigger, may need to be removed in sections or pieces. Doing so helps keep the size of your incision small to reduce scarring, and minimize healing time.
Rare infiltrating lipomas, which extend deeper into your skin and possibly into your muscle and fibrous tissue layers, may require a more complex surgical excision that’s best carried out in a standard outpatient operating room procedure. Deep lipoma removal is usually done with the aid of regional anesthetic or general anesthesia.
There are two ways to remove a lipoma — through surgical excision and via liposuction. While liposuction can be a useful approach for larger lipomas, Dr. Serrano performs standard surgical excision whenever possible because it’s less likely to result in recurrence (regrowth).
In fact, lipoma excision is widely considered a curative treatment because, following surgery, the growth almost never returns in the future. If another lipoma somehow does happen to emerge after surgery, excision would still be the best treatment option for the new growth.
To learn more about lipoma removal at Precision Surgery and Advanced Vein Therapy, call 623-321-5663 today, or use our online booking tool to schedule a visit with Dr. Serrano any time.