Lipoma is an abnormal growth of fatty tissue under your skin, most often in the subcutaneous layer but sometimes within the underlying muscle. Lipomas are characterised by a soft consistency and a well-defined margin. The majority of lipomas are benign and do not cause any symptoms. However they may be unsightly especially if they are located in and around the face and neck region, back and arms. Some lipomas are multiple and painful (Dercum’s disease) especially when they are located against bony surfaces.
If a lipoma is growing in size, painful or unsightly, you should have it removed surgically.
An extremely large lipoma (more than 10cm) that is long-standing or painful may harbour a component of cancer within. This is known as a liposarcoma and should be removed for histological examination. Additional scans such as CT or MRI may be needed before surgery.
Lipomas affect around 2% of the adult population. They generally occur on older individuals around the ages of 40 to 60. In general, males tend to develop lipomas more commonly than females.
Lipomas can occur literally anywhere in the body! They are most commonly seen on the scalp, neck, upper back, abdomen and limbs. Some lipomas are harder to remove by virtue of the location in the body (e.g. within the joints and abdominal cavity).
Lipoma surgery usually consists of either enucleation or surgical excision. This can be done under local anaesthesia for small lipomas but general anaesthesia may be needed for large, deep-seated lipomas. Liposuction may also be a treatment alternative for small lipomas.
Our doctor needs to first examine the lump(s) in the clinic before arrangements can be made for the lipoma surgery. In our practice, examination and surgery can be completed within the same day depending on the availability of facilities.
Lipoma surgery is Medisave- and insurance-claimable. If you require assistance, our friendly staff will be on hand to guide you through the steps. The treatment cost is contained because it is a day procedure without the additional costs of expensive ward charges.
Almost no preparation is required if the procedure is carried out under local anaesthesia.
Your surgery may require special scheduling if the following exists:
You may have food intake and be discharged after the procedure.
There may be slight pain after the local anaesthetic wears off but this can be controlled by oral medications. The usual medications given are oral analgesia and antibiotics.
Your surgeon will advise you on how soon to resume normal physical activities.
The wound is usually protected by water-proof dressing so you can shower at the end of the day.
Dr Thomas Ho is a Senior Consultant surgeon at Mount Alvernia Hospital. Coming from a background of General Surgery, Dr Ho is well known for his expertise in Cancer Surgery especially in the field of Head and Neck cancers as well as Abdominal and Digestive cancers. He has 20 years of surgical experience, having trained and practiced in Singapore, Australia and Canada.
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