Lipoma Removal in London
Lipoma removal is a commonly performed procedure at Centre for Surgery by our expert surgeons. Lipoma is a soft fatty lump that grows beneath the skin cause by an overgrowth of fat cells. The vast majority of lipomas are benign (not cancerous) and amenable to surgical removal. They usually aren’t painful, are soft to touch, and can . These are not to be confused with osteomas, which are hard bony lumps often found on the forehead.
The unsightly nature of many lipomas leads many people to consider having them removed. Less common reasons include functional disturbance such as when the lipoma catches on clothing leading to discomfort.
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Our lipoma removal experts
- Over 15 years experience with all types of skin lesion removal – skin tag removal, wart removal, mole removal, lipoma removal and cyst removal
- We regularly receive patients from overseas at our plastic and cosmetic surgery specialist centre
- Our surgeons are UK trained NHS consultant plastic surgeons who live and work in London. We don’t work with ‘fly-in, fly-out’ surgeons. This is very important because whilst your surgeon takes all precautions to minimise complications, complications can and do occur and our surgeons are readily available to manage any issues if and when they arise.
- We own and manage our own surgical facilities. Properly performed treatment takes time and should not be rushed.
Our surgeons are full members of:
The differences between lipomas and cysts
Lipomas and sebaceous cysts are both very common skin “lumps and bumps” and both are amenable to surgical removal. A Sebaceous cyst is a fluid filled sac beneath the skin that contains cloudy fluid and can easily mimic the appearance of a lipoma. Cyst removal is another commonly performed procedure at Centre for Surgery. There are however a number of key differences which help to distinguish between the two:
- Lipomas are located deeper beneath the skin, whereas cysts are more superficial and often tethered to the skin
- Lipomas are soft to the tough with a doughy-like consistency. Cysts are firm and sometime hard to the touch.
- Sebaceous cysts can become inflamed and infected with a punctum (opening) overlying the cyst. Lipomas do not get infected and therefore do not have redness or swelling of the skin overlying the lipoma.
You should consult your GP if you develop any lump or swelling of any part of your skin surface. Your GP will be able to assess you and determine whether the lump is a lipoma or not. Your GP may recommend an ultrasound or a biopsy to investigate the lump further.
A diagnostic ultrasound scan can easily differentiate between lipomas and sebaceous cysts. Lipomas that are larger than 5cm, actively growing or are painful will require an ultrasound scan to rule out any sinister features. Your GP can arrange this or alternatively a surgeon at Centre for Surgery can privately request an ultrasound scan. You can then decide if you would like to proceed with lipoma removal at Centre for Surgery in London. The NHS does usually not perform lipoma removal.
Features of lipoma that require further investigation:
• is getting bigger
• is painful
• feels hard
• grows back after it’s been surgically removed
Lipoma surgical techniques
Lipoma removal is most commonly performed under a local anaesthetic as an outpatient procedure. The procedure takes about 30-90 minutes depending on the size and complexity of the lipoma. In some cases, your surgeon may recommend removal under general anaesthetic for optimum comfort. In all cases, local anaesthetic is carefully injected around the lipoma to render it fully numb prior to precise surgical removal.
There are two recognised methods of lipoma removal and our surgeons are trained in both techniques:
- Surgical excision
The open surgical excision method is the most commonly used method of lipoma removal as it results in full removal of the lipoma with the surgeon being able to directly visualise the lump during the lipoma removal procedure. An elliptical incision is performed in the skin around the lipoma followed by gently expressing the lipoma out the incision using simple finger squeezing. the lipoma is then surgically removed before closure with sutures. The removed specimen is always sent for histology analysis to rule out any cancerous changes.
Liposuction using microcannulas is a minimally invasive method of lipoma removal which results in less scarring comparing with the traditional open method of lipoma removal. There is however a slightly higher risk of recurrence compared with the open method.
Recovery after lipoma removal
The recovery period usually only takes a few days, however, this will vary from person to person. Most people who undergo lipoma removal will experience a fast recovery. However, it is still recommended to avoid any strenuous activities for up to two weeks after the removal. It is also best to discuss medications you are taking with your doctor, in order to avoid any complications during the recovery period.
Potential risks and complications of lipoma removal
Before undergoing lipoma removal, it is important to understand the potential risks and complications of lipoma removal. By choosing Centre for Surgery for your procedure, you can be assured of receiving the very best possible care, before, during and after your treatment.
Potential complications of lipoma removal:
- Excessive bleeding
- Fluid or blood accumulation under the skin
- Surgical site infection
- Deformity (in the case of large lipomas)
- Muscle irritation
Your surgeon will be able to advise steps you can follow to ensure you avoid any negative side effects.
Lipoma removal before and after
What are lipomas?Lipomas are benign tumours affecting the soft tissue beneath the skin. They commonly grow to form soft well circumscribed fatty lumps and these fatty lumps can significantly grow sometimes as large as a tennis ball on some occasions.
Lipomas occur in all age groups in both men and women though they most commonly develop in middle-aged adults. The exact cause of lipomas are still unknown.
Commonly people are not aware that they have a lipoma until it grows sufficiently large enough to become either visible or can be felt. In many cases these soft tissue lumps become a cosmetic nuisance for many affected people. Fortunately they can be very effectively treated with a minor surgical procedure involving a small incision made in the skin. Following removal of the lipoma it will be sent for histology analysis to confirm that the lipoma is benign in nature.
What are the cause of lipomas?Lipomas are due to a localised over proliferation of fat cells. The internal structure of a lipoma is made up of fat cells arranged in an enlarged configuration surrounded by a fibrous capsule. Lipomas tend to develop over time as our bodies develop a number of blemishes, lumps and bumps.
Some lipomas will resolve on their own but many will persist. There is thought to be a genetic link with the formation of some types of lipomas.
Are lipomas genetic?Lipoma form as softened well circumscribed lesions beneath the skin as we age and although the cause is unclear in many cases, there is thought to be a genetic link. Genetic suscepticilbility is related to the genes which we all carry as serve as our internal genetic code which gives rise to our physical charactistics. In some cases the genetic code can develop aberrations and these can give rise to the proliferation of various growths of which lipomas are just one. More serious errors in the genetic code could give rise to cancerous changes. Lipomas are well known to be benign growths with no serious health risks from their development.
Where do lipomas most commonly develop?Lipomas most commonly form where there are fatty deposits present in a part of the body. Lipomas are most commonly located on the thighs, buttocks, arms, chest and shoulders.
Are lipomas common?Lipomas are a very commonly found skin lesion and range in size significantly. They can be as small as 0.5cm across and can be as large 3-5cm across. Lipomas that are allowed to grow without intervention can reach sizes as large as 10-15cm.
Lipomas are soft to the touch and often have a degree of mobility beneath the skin especially when moved between an overlying finger and thumb. They have a rubbery consistency.
Are lipomas painful?Most lipomas are painless and develop slowly over a period no time. Many lipomas do not change in size even after many years.
Some patients may develop discomfort from lipomas after they have been present for a number of years when they have often grown in size. In a small number of cases, certain types of lipomas develop within body cavities including the chest and abdomen. These deep lipomas may result in compression of important blood vessels and other vital internal structures which necessitate their urgent surgical removal.
Why do lipomas get removed?Most lipomas are removed because they are a cosmetic nuisance. Once a lipoma is formed it does not go away spontaneously regardless of how long it has been present.
In common with other types of lumps and bumps, many patients may find the presence of lipomas to be unsightly or there is a functional limitation such as being caught on items of clothing.
The surgical removal of a lipomatous is a straightforward procedure and the recovery time is very minimal which means you will be able to return to your activities of daily living almost immediately. There will however be a dressing to cover the lipoma removal site for the first week after treatment as it heals. You will see one of the post-operative nurses for a dressing check at 10 days after treatment.
The degree of scarring that develops after lipoma removal is minimal and this is usually significantly outweighed by the improvement in self-confidence as a result of lipoma removal.
Is there a non-surgical alternative for lipoma removal?The only effective and permanent way to remove a lipoma is with a surgical procedure.
There are a number of nonsurgical treatments for reducing the size of lipomas but our dermatologists at Centre for Surgery do not recommend any of these treatments as there is no evidence to back their effectiveness.
Examples of non-surgical lipoma removal treatments:
- Green tea
- Flaxseed oil
And many other ineffective non-surgical lipoma removal treatments. We would strongly advise to stay clear of such treatments.
Can lipomas be prevented?Lipomas generally develop gradually over a period of time and is related to the presence of underlying fatty tissue as a source of lipoma formation. Given this, it is therefore not possible to prevent the formation of lipoma .
One of the factors that may increase the risk of developing lipomas includes having a higher body mass index. Those who are overweight or obese may be more likely to develop lipomas and these are more likely to be multiple in nature.
What is the best treatment for lipoma removal?The gold standard treatment for lipoma removal is with surgical excision. The lipoma removal procedure involves a small incision over the greatest prominence of the lipoma followed by gently teasing out the lipoma with finger pressure. Even lipomas that are more deeply situated can still be removed very effectively with only a small minimal access incision. The vast majority of lipoma removals take place under a local anaesthetic.
There are a number of different types of lipomas including angiolipoma which is related to blood vessels. Other types of lipoma may be harder in consistency and located in challenging areas and it may not be possible to entirely remove these.
Can very large lipomas be removed?Centre for Surgery have access to the full range of treatments for lipoma removal. For patients with very large lipomas, our surgeons can use liposuction for a minimally invasive treatment with minimal incisions. The disadvantage of using liposuction is that it can be difficult to obtain a satisfactory tissue sample to send for histology analysis.
As part of good medical practice, it is important where clinically indicated, to take a tissue specimen to be sure that the lipoma is not something more serious.
A downside of using liposuction for lipoma removal is the risk of leaving residual tissue behind, and this could then lead to future recurrence of the lipoma.
Do lipomas return after surgical removal?In some cases of incomplete surgical removal, it is possible for a lipoma to recur. Although this is more common with a liposuction technique, it can still occur with surgical excision.
It is important to distinguish potential recurrence of a lipoma from the development of a new lipoma in nearby surrounding tissue.
What are the anaesthetic options for lipoma removal at Centre for Surgery?The vast majority of lipomas can be removed by a dermatologist under local anaesthetic as an outpatient.
For very large lipomas or complex recurrent lipomas in sensitive areas, you may be seen by one of our plastic surgeons for treatment under local anaesthetic combined with sedation or a general anaesthetic.
Can multiple lipomas be removed in a single treatment?It is possible for our surgeons to remove up to 10 lipomas in a single treatment depending on size although the more lipomas that are marked for removal increases the possibility of requiring a general anaesthetic to ensure your comfort during the procedure.
Are lipomas potentially cancerous?In the vast majority of cases, lipomas are removed because they are a cosmetic nuisance. Only in a very small number of cases, lipomas can be potentially cancerous.
In cases of doubt, your doctor will send the lipoma specimen after removal for histology analysis. The specimen is analysed under the microscope by a pathologist. Certain features which may suggest a lipoma to be potentially cancerous include large, rapidly enlarging, painful or lipomas that appear deeper under the skin and potentially within the underlying muscle and feel hard to the touch
This is why it is always important for removed lipoma specimens to be sent for histology analysis to rule out potentially cancerous changes.
Will I have a scar after lipoma removal?For patients who have surgical excision of lipomas, they will subsequently have a scar following treatment. The size and visibility of the scar depends on the size of the lipoma that was removed, your skin type and importantly surgical skill. Lighter skinned people tend to form less prominent scars.
At Centre for Surgery, our surgeons are trained in meticulous surgical techniques to minimise the appearance of scars after lipoma removal.