What is an angiolipoma?
An angiolipoma is a type of lipoma. It’s a tumor of fatty tissue that contains blood vessels, and it grows under your skin. They often appear in more than one location in your body or in bunches in the same area.
There are two types of angiolipomas: noninfiltrating angiolipomas and infiltrating angiolipomas.
Noninfiltrating angiolipomas are more common. They don’t extend deep into your skin, though they may be painful.
Infiltrating angiolipomas aren’t very common. They extend deeper into your skin, including muscles, fat or fibrous tissue. They’re usually painless.
What is the difference between an angiolipoma and lipoma?
An angiolipoma is a type of lipoma. Fat makes up all lipomas, but an angiolipoma also contains blood vessels.
Most lipomas aren’t painful, but angiolipomas can be painful.
What is the difference between an angiolipoma and liposarcoma?
Liposarcomas look like angiolipomas. However, while angiolipomas and liposarcomas look similar, angiolipomas tend to grow slowly and are well-defined. Liposarcomas tend to be larger, grow more rapidly and are not as well-defined, meaning their edges may be hard to distinguish.
Liposarcomas are soft tissue cancer that develop in fat cells. Lipomas are benign soft tissue tumors. They grow slowly and aren’t cancerous, and they usually don’t need treatment.
Your healthcare provider can help decide if a biopsy or imaging is necessary to tell them apart.
Who do angiolipomas affect?
Angiolipomas can appear in anyone. However, they’re more common in:
- Young adults between the ages of 20 and 30.
- Those with a family history of angiolipomas.
How common is this condition?
Angiolipomas aren’t very common. Only 5% to 17% of all lipomas are angiolipomas.
How does an angiolipoma affect my body?
Angiolipomas typically develop on your forearms, but they may also develop in your trunk (torso), neck, upper arms and legs.
They typically measure between one and four centimeters in diameter. They have a spongy or rubbery texture, but you may feel sensitivity or pain if you touch them.
Symptoms and Causes
What are the symptoms of angiolipomas?
Angiolipoma symptoms include:
- A round, spongy or rubbery lump underneath your skin.
- Multiple lumps, often in the same area.
- Sensitivity or pain when it’s touched.
What causes angiolipomas?
It’s not known what exactly causes angiolipomas. However, they may be caused by:
- Corticosteroids. If you use corticosteroids over a long period, you may be more likely to develop angiolipomas.
- Diabetes. If you have diabetes, you may be more likely to develop angiolipomas.
- Genetics. If someone in your family has angiolipomas, you’re more likely to develop them.
- Hormones. Because angiolipomas most often occur in people between 20 and 30 years old, hormones that develop after puberty may cause angiolipomas.
- Injuries. Angiolipomas may be your body’s response to minor, repetitive injuries.
Are angiolipomas contagious?
Angiolipomas aren’t contagious. You can’t get or spread angiolipomas through skin-to-skin contact.
Is an angiolipoma a cancer?
An angiolipoma isn’t a cancerous tumor.
Can angiolipomas become cancerous?
Angiolipomas are benign tumors. “Benign” means it won’t become cancer.
Diagnosis and Tests
How is an angiolipoma diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will conduct a physical exam. They’ll touch (palpate) your lump and may ask a few questions, including:
- Does it hurt when I touch or move the lump?
- Do you have a family history of angiolipomas?
- Do you have diabetes?
- Have you had any repetitive bumps or injuries (blunt trauma) in the area?
What tests will be done to diagnose angiolipoma?
Your healthcare provider may conduct the following tests to diagnose angiolipoma:
- Biopsy: Your healthcare provider will remove a sample of the angiolipoma from your body and examine it under a microscope to look for diseases, infections or cancer, such as liposarcoma.
- Computed Tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan provides detailed 3D images of your soft tissue. Your healthcare provider may take a CT scan to confirm your lump is angiolipoma, not liposarcoma.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan. An MRI scan can produce detailed images to confirm your lump is angiolipoma.
Management and Treatment
How are angiolipomas treated?
Angiolipomas don’t go away on their own. However, unless an angiolipoma causes pain or discomfort, you don’t have to treat it.
Surgery (excision or extirpation) removes painful or uncomfortable angiolipomas. Most angiolipomas are just below your skin, so surgically removing them isn’t difficult.
Before surgery, your healthcare provider will administer local anesthesia to numb the area around your angiolipoma. You may feel some pressure, but you won’t feel any pain.
Once the area is numb, angiolipoma removal usually takes less than an hour.
What medications are used to treat angiolipomas?
Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen, can reduce the pain associated with angiolipomas. Not everyone can take NSAIDs, so it’s a good idea to check with your healthcare provider before use.
How soon after treatment will I feel better?
If you have an angiolipoma surgically removed, you may experience pain, bruising or swelling in the area. Your symptoms should go away after a week.
How can I reduce my risk?
Because healthcare providers don’t know what causes angiolipomas, it may not be possible to prevent them. However, you may lower your risk of developing angiolipomas by:
- Adopting healthy lifestyle habits that decrease your chances of getting diabetes.
- Avoiding minor, repetitive injuries.
- Having surgery to remove angiolipomas completely so they don’t come back.
Outlook / Prognosis
What can I expect if I have angiolipomas?
With proper diagnosis and treatment, the outlook for people with angiolipomas is good. If you have your angiolipomas surgically removed, follow your healthcare provider’s instructions to care for your incisions. Be sure to schedule follow-up appointments to monitor your progress.
When should I see my healthcare provider?
Angiolipomas share many of the same symptoms as liposarcoma, so it’s important to see your healthcare provider as soon as you notice a lump under your skin.
What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?
- Do I have an angiolipoma or another kind of lipoma?
- Do I have a noninfiltrating angiolipoma or an infiltrating angiolipoma?
- Will you test for liposarcoma?
- Do I need surgery?
- What happens if I don’t get surgery?
- Can angiolipomas come back?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
It can be scary noticing a lump under your skin, especially if it’s painful. However, angiolipomas aren’t cancerous. They won’t spread across your body, though several may appear in the same area of your body. Talk to your healthcare provider when you first notice a lump under your skin for a proper diagnosis. If your angiolipoma isn’t causing pain or discomfort, it isn’t necessary to surgically remove it.
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