Photography by Jeff Pistana

Denver and Boulder Photographer serving all of Colorado and beyondPlease call:  303-665-7504E-mail
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Photos and information about lipoma removal and getting a lipoma removed.

So you have a lipoma and are thinking about getting it removed. I had two of them and I am going to give you my advice on what to do about it, and what happened when mine finally came out.

A lipoma is a benign tumor composed of fatty tissue.  It's a big, hard wad of oily yellow fat, wrapped up under your skin like a bloody burrito.  It is actually soft and squishy inside, but if yours is like mine, it feels rock-solid from outside your skin. I don't know how many times I squeezed that thing as hard as I could, with all my grip strength, but it didn't flinch.  It just laughed at me and said "you're too weak to stop me like that!"  Darn that thing.  I hated it.

My lipoma grew in my upper arm for about 5 years.  When I first noticed it, I had no idea what it was.  It hadn't grown big yet, and wasn't even noticable visually.  But I could feel it in there; something strange and not quite right was going on under my skin.  So of course I did nothing about it.  Over the next few years, it slowly kept growing and growing, until it was nearly impossible to ignore.

By the time I finally got rid of it, it looked from the outside as if I had a softball stuck deep in my arm, like someone threw a ball at me so hard that it wedged itself inside my arm permanently.  My lump was 4 or 5 inches in diameter, and bulging out a full inch or more at its highest point.  It was gross.  It felt very firm and solid.  When people touched it, they would freak out and say "what is that bizarre lump in your arm?"  I would say something like "it's an alien embryo that was implanted in my arm, and I am incubating it. It will hatch very soon."  Or: "I got a cosmetic bicep implant to make my arm look bigger, but it shifted out of place."  Actually, it does look like some weird little alien, as you can see on the next page.  There are photos on the next page of the lipoma after it was finally freed from my arm.

Having the lipoma didn't bother me much except for its freakish appearance, which made me a little self-conscious once it became large and unsightly.  Luckily, it was on my upper arm, so that a shirt typically covered it.  Whenever I leaned against a wall or something with that arm, I could really feel it lumped in there.  I would sometimes do that intentionally, forcefully, to see if I could get it to break up and disperse, but it never did.  As time went on, I became more aware of it and I could feel it lurking in there.  But it never caused any pain. I eventually got in the habit of placing my left hand over it, cupping and palpating it, while seated in my chair, thinking about something. I started talking to it after a while:  "It looks like it might rain.  Do you think it's going to rain today?" It remained mute.  Still, I thought that maybe it understood me.

I thought about having the lipoma removed for a long time before I went ahead and did it.  I didn't have a regular doctor, and I didn't like the idea of a stranger cutting my arm open and digging around inside.  I had to find a doctor that I trusted, and I wasn't wild about getting a big scar.  But it got to the point where I realized a scar would be less unsightly than the lipoma was, and the simple fact of it being there was bugging me more and more.  Plus, it kept getting bigger and there was no indication that it was going to stop.  I had read that if the lipoma was not completely removed, it might start growing again.  Or it might break up, drift away, and start growing in other places.

lipoma removed
My lipoma after removal, where it was on my arm.

I showed the lipoma to several doctors and nurses, but most of them said it was too big and that they would not be comfortable attempting to remove it.  Finally, I found an older doctor who seemed confident and competent enough to cut it out.  He allayed most of my fears and said he thought that he could get it all out and that it wouldn't recur.  He told me that it might be encapsulated under the skin, which would make it easier to remove.  I asked him if there was any chance of suffering nerve damage that might affect the use of my hand and arm. He said no, but there would be minor nerve damage directly around the incision.  I could live with that.  He had a very reassuring manner and I trusted him.

Next: Photos of the lipoma after it was removed, and more info about how to remove a lipoma.

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