Lipomatosis: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment
What is Lipomatosis?
Lipomatosis is a congenital pathological condition of the autosomal dominant type in which an individual develops multiple lipomas all over the body, especially over the trunk and the extremities. Lipoma is a benign growth of fatty tissue which develops over a period of time under the skin. These growths are absolutely benign and mostly harmless, although they may not look pleasing to the eye.
What are the Causes of Lipomatosis?
As stated, Lipomatosis is an inherited condition of the autosomal dominant type which means that only one copy of the defective gene inherited from either parent is enough to cause this condition. Lipomatosis develops due to defect in the genes linked to chromosome 12q15. Development of lipomas may be benign but sometimes that can become very painful and very displeasing to the eye and hence treatment is recommended to get rid of these growths.
How to Distinguish Between a Lipoma and Other Skin Related Growths?
It is very important to know how to differentiate between a lipoma and some other skin growth which may not be that harmless. The skin growth termed as lipoma will be:
- Soft to the touch and move easily when moved using the finger
- They are quite small in size
- They are located just under the skin
- There is no definite color to it
- They are usually present in the trunk and the extremities, although they may also occur in the neck, stomach, back and arms as well.
How is Lipomatosis Diagnosed?
If an individual has a family history of Lipomatosis and develops skin growths with the features described above then it is easy to diagnose Lipomatosis. The only issue is to diagnose whether the skin growth is a lipoma or has it grown big enough under the skin to compress the nerves within. For this, the physician may take a biopsy of the lipoma to rule out any chances of it becoming malignant. In case if the biopsy is suspicious of a malignant process going on then further studies in the form of an MRI or a CT scan may be done for further analysis of the growth.
How is Lipomatosis Treated?
Normally, Lipomatosis does not need any treatment unless it starts to cause problems in the form of pain or interferes with the ability to perform activities or comes in the way of wearing clothes. In such cases, a dermatologist will have to be consulted who will formulate a treatment plan to get rid of the Lipomas. There are certain factors considered before a treatment plan is formulated. These factors are:
- Size of lipoma
- The amount of lipomas present
- Any prior history of skin cancer
- Whether the lipoma is painful.
The following treatment modalities are recommended to get rid of lipomas due to Lipomatosis:
Surgical Excision: This is the most preferred way to get rid of Lipomas. This is because once removed in majority of the cases lipomas do not recur.
Liposuction: This is yet another treatment to get rid of Lipomas due to Lipomatosis. Since these skin growths are fat based, liposuction helps them in reducing their size. In this procedure, the area of the tumor is anesthetized and then a syringe is inserted into the tumor and the fat is removed:
Steroids: Steroid injections have shown a lot of promise in shrinking the tumor when injected directly over the affected region and treating lipomas formed due to Lipomatosis.