Abdominal lipoma: what it is, symptoms and treatment

An abdominal lipoma is a benign tumor located under the skin of the abdomen, in the subcutaneous tissue. It is a very common pathology in both young and adults. Finding a lump in the abdomen can be frightening, so it is convenient to know the characteristics of this lesion given its frequency and few complications.

What is an abdominal lipoma?

Abdominal lipoma

Our skin is formed of three layers: epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous cellular tissue or hypodermis. The subcutaneous cellular tissue is the deepest layer, which contributes to maintaining body temperature and gives skin consistency.

It consists of fat cells or adipocytes, defense cells and fibroblasts, elongated cells that give consistency to the skin. Adipocytes are large cells with the nucleus displaced by a large fat vacuole.

In certain circumstances, these cells grow in excess forming a mass called lipoma.

They can appear anywhere on the body, being more frequent in the neck, back, and abdomen. When they appear in the abdomen they are called abdominal lipomas. The size is variable, from millimeters to several centimeters. Continue reading: Inflammation: So many causes, only one mechanism

Symptoms of an abdominal lipoma

To differentiate an abdominal lipoma from other abdominal tumors the palpation of the lesion can be of great help. Lipomas are soft, non-painful lumps covered by normal skin.

If the skin covering the tumor is red or has some retraction, it may require a more specific study.

Another characteristic of lipomas is that they are not usually attached to the deeper planes, that is, they are mobile. When you feel it you can notice how the lump moves under the skin.

In principle, lipomas are not accompanied by any symptoms. If they grow a lot they can compress other structures and produce pain or inflammation. In addition, they can become infected, in which case they need to be treated with antibiotics.

Why are abdominal lipomas formed?

Abdominal lipoma

They are a very common pathology and need not be due to any specific cause. On the other hand, there are some factors related to its appearance:

Genetic factors:

Although it is not very frequent, there is a pathology that occurs with the formation of multiple lipomas. It is called lipomatosis and is a hereditary disease.

Consumption of alcohol:

It is not related as such with the appearance of lipomas but with lipomatosis. The consumption of alcohol in subjects with this pathology favors the formation of more lipomas.

Obesity :

In obesity, the amount of fat is higher, so there is a greater likelihood that a lipoma forms.

Other diseases :

Disorders in the metabolism of fat may favor the formation of these benign tumors. The same happens in liver diseases.

Sometimes lipomas are formed as a result of a blow, by an alteration in the evolution of the picture. In any case, we have already said that there are no known determining causes but factors related to their appearance.

Neither are they a dangerous pathology, they are asymptomatic and do not evolve to malignant pathologies. Precisely for that reason knowing their characteristics can be useful to identify them with ease.

Diagnosis of an abdominal lipoma

Abdominal lipoma

In many cases with palpation, the diagnosis of abdominal lipoma is established. If it is small and is not in areas of possible complications, there is no need to do any testing. It can be followed up by the patient and in case the characteristics change the return to the specialist.

If there are doubts about the diagnosis or it has a considerable size, other tests can be done to confirm that it is a lipoma:

An ultrasound:

Ultrasound is a quick and simple imaging technique that allows you to see the content of the lipoma. Differentiates it from cysts, which will have a liquid content or malignant tumors.

A biopsy :

A biopsy is the one that gives the diagnosis of certainty. To confirm that it is a lipoma, a portion of the tissue must be removed and the microscope examined. In this study, you can check the presence of adipocytes.

Abdominal lipoma treatment

Abdominal lipoma

Abdominal lipomas do not have to require treatment. They are only treated when they are in a complicated place or if the size can be dangerous. If the repercussions on the quality of life of the subject are important, the possibility of treating it also arises.

The treatment consists of a surgery to remove the lipoma. A liposuction can be done (a syringe is inserted to extract the contents) or an extirpation. In the excision, the lipoma is opened and removed, closing the wound with a suture.

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