Lipomas and cysts have a similar appearance and can, in fact, be mistaken one for another, but they are two completely different things.
Generally speaking, neither lipoma nor cyst presents a serious threat to the overall health of an individual, however, they should always be checked by a medical professional to determine if there are any signs of malignancy or another issue.
It is quite common for a layman to not be able to tell the difference between them, but it is also not rare that an inexperienced physician mixes them up, especially if the diagnosis is made fast and without a thorough checkup.
Understanding the Difference
Firstly, when it comes to distinguishing these two conditions, one should rather rely on a trained medical professional than their own methods of detection. A good doctor will be able to recognize what kind of problem a person is dealing with and thus give a proper diagnosis and treatment options. Therefore, finding a good dermatologist is of the essence when it comes to this issue.
Secondly, one should learn about the characteristics of both conditions to be able to recognize them properly:
- Lipomas are benign tumors that represent an abnormal growth of fatty tissue. They are usually soft and painless, however, if untreated they can become tender and hurt, and they could pose a risk of malignancy in some rare cases. Generally, lipomas are usually up to three centimeters in diameter and can be moved under your finger when you press on them. Lipoma has a smooth surface and can grow quite large over a long period of time, and it is basically a formation of fat cells that collapsed into a capsule under the skin or even under the muscles.
- Cysts, on the other hand, occur because the ducts of the glands on the skin are obstructed or blocked. They are well defined in shape and located closer to the surface of the skin, whereas lipomas tend to go deeper. Cysts are also firm and do not move as much as lipomas when touched. They can have the red appearance, become irritated, and cause swelling in the surrounding area of the skin, quite unlike lipomas which do not cause any of these symptoms. Cysts are also considerably smaller and grow slower than lipomas, and they also have a punctum, which looks like the opening on the top of a common pimple. They are quite common in adulthood and can occur anywhere on the body, although they are most commonly found on the face, chest, and back.
Treatment for Lipomas
Lipomas usually require surgery to be removed completely, and it is the most effective way of getting rid of them once and for all. Usually, a surgery will be the option for lipomas that have grown considerably large in size, usually three centimeters or more, and after they are removed, if the surgeon is skilled, they should not grow back.
A liposuction is also an option for the treatment of lipomas, although a slightly more unconventional one. Liposuction is the procedure that utilizes suction to remove the fatty tissue that lipoma is made of. Individuals who choose liposuction as a treatment usually do so for cosmetic reasons.
Steroid injections can as well be a form of treatment and at the same time the least invasive one. A doctor will inject a mixture of steroids, usually triamcinolone acetonide and lidocaine, into the center of the lipoma. If the lipoma does not go away after approximately one month, the treatment can be done again.
There are also several home remedies for lipomas that may help. One of them involves chickweed, which is a small plant that contains saponins. These are the chemicals that can be found in some types of plants and they help break down the fatty tissue.
Most pharmacies have chickweed solution or ointments that can be applied directly onto the lump. Neem is also a herb that can help with lipoma management. It is an Indian herb that can be used in cooking or as a supplement to help break down the fatty tissue. Flaxseed oil can be applied directly to the tumor three times a day, and the acids that the oil contains will help dissolve the fat cells in the tumor.
Turmeric is rich in antioxidants and helps prevent and stop the inflammation and keep the multiplication of fat cells at bay. Green tea also reduces the number of fatty tissues, so drinking a cup or two of green tea each day can help the tumor shrink.
Treatment for Cysts
Cysts are, thankfully, not a health threat, however, they can get quite unpleasant to look at, and uncomfortable when they reach a certain size. There are several options that a person can discuss with their doctor to find the best treatment solution when it comes to cysts.
- Incision and drainage is a method used for the treatment of cysts. A doctor will make a small incision in the cyst and literally squeeze out the contents of it. This will reduce the inflammation and swelling, and the whole process is very quick, although there is a high chance that the cyst will come back after this method.
- Injection is a treatment which involves a medicine that is injected into the cyst to reduce the inflammation and swelling. This method is also very quick and painless.
- Surgery can also be one of the methods of cyst removal. These surgeries are minor and they guarantee the complete removal of the cyst. However, if the cyst is inflamed, a doctor will delay the surgery until the inflammation goes away. After the removal, an individual will have to go back to the doctor’s office to have stitches removed. This procedure is very safe and effective, and after it is performed, a cyst is not likely to reoccur again.
A doctor will apply a local anesthetic, then cut the cyst with a scalpel and squeeze the keratin that surrounds the cyst, and using another instrument hold the incision wide open while he uses his fingers to remove the cyst, keeping it intact. If a piece of a cyst remains inside, a doctor can perform a curettage to remove the remains, and then burn them with a cauterizer. In these cases, there is a chance of the recurrence.
- Laser treatment is quite new when it comes to cyst removal, but it gives great results and minimal scarring. This method combines laser with minimal excision technique, and it begins with a laser which punctures a small hole for the removal of the contents of the cyst. Afterward, minimal excision method is used to remove the cyst walls. This treatment results in no recurrence and good cosmetic outcome.