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Fatty Tumors

Luciano Fiszer, MD, is a board-certified general surgeon based in Miami and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

Fatty tumors may develop anywhere in the body where there are fat cells. In general, a fatty tumor, also termed a lipoma, is a soft, easily moveable lump that usually forms between the fat tissue and the underlying muscle layer. These tumors are typically benign, but some people may undergo removal of these tumors if the tumors are bothersome from a cosmetic appearance viewpoint according to Dr. Luciano Fiszer of Miami.

What Are Fatty Tumors?

Fatty tumors are simply an overgrowth of fat cells. They are usually small, often under 2 centimeters in size. However, some rare larger fatty tumors can grow to over 10 centimeters. These tumors are slow-growing in many cases, and most do not cause pain or other unwanted symptoms. Fatty tumors usually occur on the trunk, arms, underarms, shoulders, neck, and thighs, but fatty tumors can occur elsewhere. Rarely, lipomas, or fatty tumors, may develop more profoundly in the body’s tissue, where they might cause issues if they begin to pressure nearby nerves, various tissues, within bones or muscles, and even organs in some rare cases.

What Causes Lipomas or Fatty Tumors?

The precise cause of lipomas is mainly unknown, but studies show a correlation between these tumors and those with a specific gene mutation. These patients will have a family history of these tumors. Patients will have widely varying instances of tumor occurrences, but most with this inherited faulty gene will develop more than one tumor over their lifetime.  Additionally, some research studies have suggested a connection between fatty tumors and diabetes and certain inherited disorders, such as adiposis dolorosa, Cowden syndrome, Gardner’s syndrome, and Madelung’s disease. Other possible causes of these disorders include a sedentary lifestyle and obesity. These are just theories currently. There have also been some research studies that may indicate a link between fatty tumors and increased levels of the female hormone estrogen.

How Are Fatty Tumors Diagnosed?

In most cases, doctors diagnose fatty tumors through a thorough visual and palpable exam of the presenting lumps beneath the skin. In cases where tumors are thought to be deeper into the body tissues, a sonogram of the area is often recommended.

Common Symptoms of Fatty Tumors

  • Soft, easily moveable lump felt beneath the skin
  • It occurs more often in people aged 40 to 60
  • Oval or dome-shaped in appearance
  • Often described as doughy to touch
  • Occurs most often on the trunk, arms, underarms, thighs, neck, and shoulders but may occur elsewhere
  • Generally painless unless larger or if pressing on nearby nerves or other structures or if they contain lots of blood vessels

More profound and/or larger fatty tumors that occur near the bowel may cause adverse abdominal symptoms like nausea, changes in bowel habits, increased discomfort, vomiting, constipation, or even bowel blockage in rare cases.

Possible Risk Factors for Fatty Tumors

  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Liver disease
  • Diabetes
  • Glucose intolerance
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Certain inherited diseases and disorders
  • Possible link to injured tissue damage and lipoma growth

Patients with fatty tumors and those with an increased risk of developing these lipomas should carefully monitor any lumps that develop and relay lump evidence and other pertinent medical data to the doctor for a more accurate and timely diagnosis and ongoing professional healthcare monitoring.

Is a Fatty Tumor Cancerous?

Most researchers and those in the medical community believe that fatty tumors are typically benign, meaning non-cancerous. Some researchers believe that cancerous lipomas, called liposarcomas or malignant tumors, are different from fatty tumors. Others believe that both cancerous and noncancerous cells may be in fatty tumors, but the development of cancer seems to be very rare in patients with fatty tumors. Many doctors believe that liposarcomas are simply misdiagnosed as fatty tumors.

Do Fatty Tumors Need to Be Removed?

Most fatty tumors do not need to be removed if they are small and are not causing any unwanted symptoms. If the tumor grows, becomes bothersome or is otherwise embarrassing to the patient, the tumor may be removed. Ideally, removal, while small, is the best course of action. Most can be easily excised under minimal anesthesia by a trained and experienced surgeon. The surgical course of action will be more complex in cases where the fatty tumor has grown very large or is otherwise situated in a place where it could cause increased complications.

When to Contact Your Doctor

  • When the lump grows or changes
  • When pain or redness develops at the lump site
  • Whenever any adverse symptoms occur
  • If a fever develops
  • When a lump or skin site becomes hot to touch
  • If the lump becomes hard or doesn’t quickly move
  • When other visible changes occur to the skin at or near the lump site

Contact your doctor regarding any fatty tumor concerns or other healthcare complaint. Learn more about fatty tumors, along with other healthcare related conditions and treatments, by contact Elite Surgical Miami anytime.

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    "Dr Fiszer and his staff are wonderful. He is a very knowledgeable, kind, caring, and concerned physician. He answered all of my questions and even answered questions I did not know I had. I was very hesitant about having any type of bariatric surgery. Dr. Fiszer helped me choose which procedure was best for me and when I decide on the gastric sleeve I felt well informed and comfortable with my decision. I would highly recommend him to anyone without reservation."

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    "Dr. Fiszer is an amazing doctor. His bedside manner is impeccable and his desire to make you feel safe is one of the main reason I will always seek him out for any future surgery. His medical expertise is next to none. Dr. Fiszer performed emergency surgery on my husband for an abscess last weekend and his treatment, compassion, love for his work and respect for his patients is the highest I’ve ever seen. I loved his treatment, courtesy and overall desire to help. God bless you Doc! You ROCK!!!"

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    Dr. Fiszer performs these procedures using the most advanced surgical technologies.

    Dr. Luciano Fiszer, MD, is a board-certified general surgeon who specializes in bariatric /weight-loss surgery and surgical procedures of the digestive tract. Dr. Fiszer has been in medical practice for over 10 years, providing expertise in minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic-assisted surgery.

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