Removal of a lipoma can be performed by a plastic surgeon using a local anesthetic.
A lipoma is a lump of fat that grows in the subcutaneous tissue. While these fatty deposits are entirely benign, they can grow large enough to be uncomfortable or impede normal movement. In these cases, lipoma surgery or other treatment can remove the lumps to correct the problem.
For many people, lipoma removal is not necessary as the lumps grow to a certain size and simply do not get any bigger. Lipomas are benign and cannot become cancerous, and are usually not dangerous. In some cases, however, lipomas can grow to a very large size or multiple fatty deposits can develop. They can make movement difficult and cause pain or discomfort, making removal a necessity. Lipomas can sometimes become infected, and when they do, surgical removal is often the best treatment.
Some lipomas must be carefully extracted from the muscle.
There are three main lipoma removal treatments, including surgical and non-surgical options. One option is steroid treatments. Injecting steroids directly into a lipoma kills the fatty tissue, which causes the fat lump to shrink. Injections are usually given once a month, and most people who receive this lipoma treatment find that it takes several weeks for the lipoma to begin to shrink.
The lipoma will be tested after removal to rule out cancer.
Another non-surgical option is liposuction similar to that performed by a plastic surgeon. In this case, only a local anesthetic is used and a needle is inserted into the lipoma to remove the fatty tissue. Recovery from the procedure is usually quick, relatively painless, and free of complications.
These non-surgical options are not always suitable for large lipomas as they cannot fully remove the lipoma. Also, a large lipoma can leave a pouch with excess skin when the fatty tissue is removed. For large or problematic fat deposits, lipoma removal surgery may be a viable option.
Lipoma removal may include steroid injections to help shrink the tumor.
Simple surgery to remove a small lipoma can be performed in a doctor’s office under local anesthesia. It is usually a quick procedure, with quick recovery and low risk of complications. For large fatty tumors or multiple growths, inpatient surgery may be required. In these cases, surgical removal of the lipoma is performed under general anesthesia.
Admission to a hospital may be necessary for the removal of larger tumors.
The risk of complications occurring increases for larger or more complicated lipomas. During the surgical removal of a lipoma, the doctor or surgeon must take care to avoid cutting muscles or nerves to prevent unnecessary damage. This can be difficult in situations where a large lipoma has grown inward. Complications from surgery can include bruising, wound site infection, blood vessel and muscle damage, and scarring. In rare cases, lipoma removal can cause damage to the nerves in the area.
Note that insurance does not always cover lipoma removal costs. If the removal of one or more lipomas is performed for medical reasons, as recommended by a doctor, insurance companies tend to cover the costs without any problems. If a person chooses to have lipomas removed because they are unsightly, it counts as cosmetic surgery and is usually not covered by medical insurance.