How are lipomas treated?

In many cases, lipomas do not need to be treated. Instead, your doctor may simply recommend watching the lipoma on a regular basis. Sometimes a patient may choose to have the lipoma removed if there is concern about its location and how it affects the person’s appearance. (This procedure may not be covered by health insurance.)

Occasionally, a lipoma causes pain or affects muscle development and needs to be removed. Lipomas are usually self-contained, meaning they do not invade (move into) the surrounding tissue. Therefore, it is usually possible for the doctor to make a small incision (cut) in the skin and then either squeeze out the lipoma, or use liposuction.

During the liposuction procedure, an incision is made in the lipoma, and a thin, hollow tube called a cannula is inserted into the incision. The cannula is then moved back and forth to loosen the fat, which is vacuumed up through the tube.

Liposuction can be useful for larger lipomas, but the procedure is associated with a higher rate of recurrence (the lipoma grows back). Procedures to remove lipomas are usually done under local anesthesia, and patients go home the same day.

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