Lipomas are cluster of fat cells that have become overactive and so distended with fat that they have become palpable lumps. Lipomas are quite common and occur at any age but not seen in children. Some people have only one, but some people can have many lipomas in the body or where some lipomas have been operated earlier. Lipomas are never malignant and usually do not cause many problems, it is not usually painful.
Are Lipomas Hard or Soft?
Lipomas are clusters of overactive fat cells seen in the subcutaneous tissue of the skin. It’s a quite common lump seen in adults. It’s mainly seen in the neck, shoulders, arms, back and in the upper thighs. Single or multiple lumps can be seen at the same time. Usually patient complain of a lump they have seen in the body, which sometimes be unsightly or interfere with normal activity. The lump is usually spherical or hemispherical in shape and the size can vary from small lump to large. Lipoma surface is smooth and soft, the fat lobules can be felt with firm palpation. Edges are irregular and when compressed may slip away from your finger. There can be other lipomas in the surrounding area.
Lipomas are small, soft lumps seen on the body. Let us see what are the symptoms and characteristics of lipomas.
Symptoms of Lipomas
Many patients present because they have noticed a lump and they want to know what it is. The lump may appear unsightly or interfere with movements especially if they are very large or pendunculated.
Characteristics of Lipomas
- Skin Layer – lipomas occur in the hypodermis layer of the skin (subcutaneous tissue). The fat lobules/fat tissue are in this layer. These fat lobules become over reactive and feel as a lump.
- Site – lipomas are common in the subcutaneous (hypodermis) tissues of the upper limb, neck, shoulders, upper thighs and the back. But they can occur at any place in the body.
- Color – the skin that overlies the lump is normal and the veins crossing the lipoma may be visible as faint blue streaks.
- Shape and Size – lipomas are usually spherical, but some lipomas can be discoid or hemispherical. Some lipomas are small and some are large.
- Surface – most lipomas are lobulated, as fat in the body is in the form of lobules. The lobules can be seen and felt on the surface and at the edge of the lump. The surface feels smooth and soft. Firm pressure reveals the depressions between the lobules which becomes more prominent with firm palpation or gentle squeezing.
- Edge – edge is not circular it appears irregular corresponding to each lobule. Because the edge is soft, compressible and sometimes quite thin it slips away from your fingers when you try to hold the lump.
- Composition – most lipomas contain a soft, jelly-like fat when cut open immediately after removal.
- Local Tissue – the surrounding structures/tissues appear normal. Other lipomas may be present.
- NHS. (2018). Lipoma. [https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/lipoma/]
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