The doctor will perform the following to diagnose a lipoma:
- A physical examination
- Biopsy which is a tissue sample for lab examination
- An ultrasound or other imaging tests like an MRI or CT scan, if the lipoma is large and has unusual features or appears to be deeper than the fatty tissue
It is unusual for lipoma to be cancerous , when it is called a liposarcoma. Liposarcomas are cancerous tumors in fatty tissues which grow rapidly, don't easily move under the skin and are usually painful. A biopsy, MRI or CT scan is typically done if the doctor suspects liposarcoma.
Lipomas usually do not require treatment. However, the doctor will recommend removal of the lipoma only if the lipoma is painful or is growing. Lipoma treatments include:
- Surgical removal - Most lipomas are removed surgically by cutting them out. Relapse after removal is uncommon. Possible side effects are scarring and bruising.
- Steroid injections - This treatment shrinks the lipoma but usually doesn't eliminate it. The use and potential of injections before surgical removal is still being studied.
- Liposuction - In this treatment, a needle and a large syringe are used to remove the fatty lump.