Definition. – A new-growth composed of fat tissue seated in the corium or subcutaneous tissue.
Symptoms. – Lipomata are soft flabby tumors varying in size from a small nodule to a large mass weighing several pounds. While the skin covering them may be thickened, reddened and adherent, it is usually normal in color and movable. The tumors are single or multiple, and may be described in two forms, the circumscribed and the diffuse. They may occur on any part of the surface but are commonly limited to the neck, back and buttocks. They do not recur after removal, are of slow growth and painless. The diffuse form is less common than the circumscribed variety and covers larger areas, gradually merging into the sound tissue. A rare form involving the neck (fatty neck) has been described as occurring in the male subjects.
Adiposus dolorosa is a rare and independent affection which, however, may be mentioned in connection with the subject of lipomata. It is characterized by large, irregular, nodular, diffused, fatty deposits in the subcutaneous tissue of middle-aged women. By gradual involvement it may extend until it is practically general, and is always associated with pronounced muscular weakness, pain, changes in the tactile and temperature sensations, general nervous disturbances and hemorrhages from the mucous outlets. It naturally goes on to a fatal termination in many cases.
Etiology and Pathology. – Lipomata are usually acquired and the circumscribed form is more often seen in adult women, while the diffuse form occurs almost exclusively in middle-aged men. Excessive fat formation has been noted in connection with such conditions as sarcoma, angioma, carcinoma and nevus (nevus lipomatodes). Microscopically, masses of fat globules arranged in lobules, together with blood vessels, are found surrounded by a connective tissue framework.
Diagnosis. – This should not be difficult because the soft, lobulated, painless, freely movable tumors covered by normal skin are characteristic.
Prognosis and Treatment. – These benign growths do not involve life and appearance and discomfort are the only considerations in treatment which may be described as surgical because complete excision is the only efficient cure. The high-frequency currents and liquor potassae, 1/2 to 1 teaspoonful doses freely diluted three times a day, have been suggested.