Usually, lipomas are neither painful nor harmful, but there are occasions when they may be uncomfortable, particularly if they arise on the back. If they do not cause any problems, then no treatment is necessary, but for many people, they are aesthetically unattractive, and lipoma removal surgery may be the preferred choice.
During the straightforward excision procedure, a small cut is made over the lump, the fatty tissue is removed, and the skin is sutured. The patient, size and location of the lump, will determine the type of anaesthetic used. Small lipomas can be removed using a local anaesthetic, which may only mean day surgery, with a short period of recovery time required. Larger lipomas such as those on the back, should be removed under a general anaesthetic, and therefore will involve a longer recovery period, with driving or operation of machinery prohibited for at least 24 hours.
As with all surgery procedures, there will be certain risk factors to be aware of following the lipoma removal. The following are some examples:
This is a common occurrence. Clear fluid collects in the space vacated by the removal of the lipoma, and sometimes may need to be drained.
Antibiotic treatment will be required if infection occurs.
If the wound does bleed, it may be necessary to return to the surgeon for further attention
If a small piece of the lipoma is left behind, then the lipoma will return
As is the case with all surgical procedures, the possibility of nerve damage is raised.
Some people develop keloid scars, which can be unsightly.
Risks of a more general nature, although extremely rare, include death as a reaction to anaesthetic, blood clots, heart attack or stroke due to blood vessel problems.
Following surgery, the very least that can be expected is appropriate pain management by the medical team, who should frequently monitor pain and discomfort levels, and take any necessary action. The typical pain relievers that may be used are Panadol and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), but it is rare that anything stronger than panadol will be needed. As with all medication and drugs, professional medical advice must be obtained before proceeding with the treatment.
Upon discharge, the incision should be protectedby a waterproof dressing for roughly 5 days. It should be healed after this period, but will still need care when washing until fully healed. It is normal to find bruising around the wound, maybe slightly reddened along the cut or a hard ridge of tissue beneath the wound. These should all fade and be less visible after approximately three months.
A common sense approach to activities and exercise should be employed, taking things slowly and gently at first, until the wound is fully healed.
However, not everybody finds lipoma surgery an appealing choice. There are several natural, home remedies and herbal treatments that could be tried if surgery does not seem to be a suitable solution. Of course, the appropriate professional medical advice should always be sought before taking this course of action to avoid lipoma surgery.