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Pediatric Lipomas (Skin Lesions)

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Summary

A lipoma is a benign (non-cancerous) lump of fat cells located under the skin. They can occur anywhere on a child’s body.

Expanded Overview

A lipoma is a lump of fat cells that form just under the skin. They do not hurt, and feel soft, squishy and moveable when pressed on. The lumps can range in size and location on the body. 

A child can have more than one on lipoma on their body. They grow larger over time, and typically occur more often and in greater quantities in boys. 

Approximately 1% of the general population is diagnosed with lipomas. Lipomas may occur in the stomach, small intestine, oropharynx or esophagus and lead to complications including bleeding and obstruction. Duodenal or colonic lipomas may be pendunculated and could cause obstruction or intussusception. Lipomas can rarely occur on the endocrine, adrenal, pancreas or parathyroid glands. Maxillofacial lipomas most often are intralingual or orbitonasal. Lipomas that involve the cardiovascular system present treatment challenges. 

Causes

Experts do not the exact cause, but lipomas tend to be inherited and are seen more often in families and people who are overweight.

Symptoms

The main symptoms of lipoma are lumps under the surface of the skin that are:

  • Movable
  • Squishy  
  • Not painful

Surgery

Cosmesis is a driving factor in surgical approaches and techniques. Lipomas that cause symptoms should be removed. Minimally invasive methods that use tissue dissection are effective as is liposuction in large lipomas.

Whether excision or enucleation is used, capsules must be removed completely, otherwise lipomas might reoccur. Lipomas in challenging locations benefit from consultation with specialists; for most patients, the outlook is excellent.

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