Lipoma is a benign tumor that is made up of fat and collagen. Lipomas are common in dogs and can be found anywhere on the body, but are most often located around the neck and shoulders. Lipomas can be removed surgically, but it’s important to know that they are not cancerous.
When a dog has lipoma, it can be uncomfortable for them and make them seem unbalanced or unstable when they’re trying to move around. Sometimes, lipomas can grow so large that they begin to interfere with motion or cause other problems for your pet. You should talk to your vet about whether surgical removal is recommended for your dog if this sounds like something you’d like done.
There are many different ways that lipomas can be removed from dogs:
Liposuction: This technique involves injecting a high-pressure stream of saline solution into the fatty tissue surrounding the lipoma (while under anesthesia), which causes it to collapse under its own weight and then gradually disappear over time as it absorbs back into your dog’s body through natural processes like metabolism.
Right here on Cosmeticsurgerytips, you are privy to a litany of relevant information on how to shrink a dog lipoma naturally, how to prevent lipomas in dogs, dog liposuction cost, and so much more. Take out time to visit our catalog for more information on similar topics.
Liposuction For Lipoma In Dogs
Have you ever wondered what you’re supposed to do about the fatty lumps your middle-aged dog starts to sprout? Lipomas are so common and annoying — and yet so benign — that it’s not surprising we would harbor mixed feelings about them.
The most common veterinary approach for these masses is to do a fine needle aspiration to get a diagnosis. We then check the extracted cells under a microscope to make sure we don’t see any oddball cancerous cells.
Most of the time, we’ll inform you that the mass is indeed a benign lipoma, and you’ll breathe a sigh of relief when we tell you that we’d rather not surgically remove it, given the high rate of complications and possibility of regrowth. All you have to do then is tolerate its unsightliness, a blemish your dog has no reason to resent — she couldn’t care less what she looks like.
But if your veterinarian is the cautious type, he’ll inform you of something you may not know: A fine needle aspiration is an inexact method of assessing a mass because it tells you onlywhat the cells look like in the spot punctured by the small needle. It can’t possibly be 100 percent representative of every cell within the mass. And considering that lipomas are nearly impossible to distinguish from liposarcomas (the cancerous version) using a fine needle aspirate, the more rare cancerous form is still a possibility.
That’s why some vets are more likely to offer removal for lipoma-like masses. In my experience, most board-certified veterinary surgeons recommend it. After all, they’ll argue, you can’t know what it is without examining the whole thing. And you wouldn’t leave any mass in your own body without the same thorough treatment — unsightly or not. At least, most of us wouldn’t.
Despite this purist approach that some extra-cautious vets take, cosmetic reasons are often cited as the primary rationale behind the surgical removal of most lipomas. Owners just don’t like how they look and feel.
It’s true that there’s a very low probability that a mass will turn cancerous or otherwise harmful if it looks like a lipoma under a microscope. It’s also true that lipomas are notoriously annoying to remove and result in a high rate of postoperative complications (mostly superficial infections) and delayed healing — not to mention the expense and general discomfort of surgery, as well as the risks involved with any anesthetic procedure.
All of this begs the question: Is the risk worth the reward?
Disclaimer: Some lipomas get very large and may affect a dog’s quality of life. In these cases, surgery is indicated. The good news is that lipomas most often show up on the trunk of a dog’s body, where they can be more easily removed, thanks to an abundance of skin in the region. (Fun lipoma facts: They’re rare in cats but common in parakeets. Older, obese female dogs also seem predisposed to them, which is yet another reason to keep your dogs lean.)
Luckily, there’s a new, less-invasive method of lipoma removal that’s gaining popularity: suck the life out of them á la liposuction.
A new study suggests that it’s less painful and the healing time is quicker. However, certain complications (fewer than with surgical excision) and regrowth are still possible. And it’s not recommended for the really big ones —more than15 centimeters in diameter.
This is undoubtedly a cool innovation that’s got the vet community justifiably intrigued. Will it change our recommendation when it comes to whether these masses need to come off? Hmmm. Let me ponder that one.
A lipoma is a very common benign mass made up exclusively of fat cells. While the vast majority of lipomas are located just under the skin anywhere in the body, these lumpy masses may also develop in the abdomen and chest.
About 16% of dogs are affected Middle-aged to geriatric dogs are most predisposed. Among these, obese adult female dogs are particularly at risk. Cats, on the other hand, are unlikely lipoma patients. Lipomas are considered rare among felines.
As benign masses, lipomas are not considered cancerous. As such, they do not metastasize (spread) to other tissues. They can, however, prove problematic in other ways, as when they grow large enough to interfere with normal movement or when these space-occupying masses arise in inconvenient anatomical locations.
As with so many other masses — cancerous or otherwise — the exact cause of lipomas is unknown. Because some breeds of dogs are overrepresented, some genetic influence can be assumed.
Symptoms and Identification
A lipoma will typically present initially as a small, hemispherical lump under a dog’s skin. It will usually appear haired, relatively soft and somewhat mobile, though variations in texture (firmer masses that are more firmly adhered to the underlying tissues) are not uncommon.
Many dogs will present with multiple lipomas on their body at once.
While most lipomas are diagnosed via a fine-needle aspirate, it’s important for owners to understand that a fine-needle aspirate is not always 100% accurate given that it only retrieves a small number of cells that may not be representative of the mass as a whole.
For that reason, dog owners are asked to monitor the mass for rapid growth or any changes in appearance or texture. Annual re-aspiration of these masses is typically indicated.
Since lipomas are rare in cats, the presence of any lump may represent a more sinister type of growth. Which is why some veterinarians believe the presence of any mass under the skin requires a biopsy, not just a fine-needle aspirate.
Though lipomas can affect any breed of dog or cat, middle-aged and older dogs, such as Labrador Retrievers, Weimaraners, and Doberman Pinschers, are more likely to present with lipomas.
Since the vast majority of canine lipomas are harmless, surgical removal is only necessary if they are large enough to cause discomfort, hinder normal movement, or interfere with body functions. Nonetheless, biopsy (to retrieve a substantial sample of tissue) with or without surgical removal is strongly recommended for cats with fatty skin lumps.
If owners elect surgery for cosmetic reasons, they should understand that these masses can prove problematic post-operatively in that a higher risk of post-surgical complications (at the site of surgery) has been reported for these masses. For this reason, some veterinarians are now pioneering the use of liposuction to extract fatty tissue from within these masses. Unfortunately, re-growth rates following surgery or liposuction are high.
In addition to surgery and liposuction, steroid injections and laser therapy (among other alternative therapies for pets) have also been studied but no conclusive approach to handling all lipomas has been adopted by the wider veterinary community.
Rarely, a dog’s lipoma will become locally invasive. In these cases, removal may be indicated and radiation therapy may be helpful in limiting its re-growth.
As benign masses most veterinarians elect not to routinely remove, lipomas are considered relatively inexpensive compared to other lumps. Their cost is typically confined to the price of the annual fine-needle aspirate, which usually costs anywhere from $20 to $100.
Surgical removal, however, can prove pricey — especially given that these tumors have a high degree of post-op complications. Owners should expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $500 per mass. Should the mass be extremely large, reside in a hard-to-reach spot, or should it be highly invasive, surgical expenses may creep toward $1,000 — more, should a board-certified surgeon be enlisted to remove a mass deemed especially difficult.
There is no known mode of prevention for lipomas. However, since they occur more frequently in overweight dogs, healthy weight maintenance should be of some benefit in limiting the size and/or number of lipomas.
How To Shrink A Dog Lipoma Naturally
Lipomas— or fatty tumors — are those soft moveable lumps we sometimes discover under the skin of our pups.
These benign, non-cancerous growths appear on dogs of all shapes and sizes, especially as they age. The good news is, most of the time they’re painless and don’t pose any health issues.
Though occasionally, lipomas can grow to be large and uncomfortable for your dog, or develop in an area that makes movement difficult — like an armpit or joint. Surgery, injections, and other medical treatments do exist to remove discomforting lipomas. But some pet owners are left wondering…
Can I help shrink my dog’s lipomas naturally?
Holistic and complementary therapies for treating and shrinking dog lipomas are beginning to see the light of day in the world of pet health. And while many don’t carry strong scientific support, they’re generally safe to explore.
Diet & Exercise
In the case of lipomas, a healthier diet, alongside exercise, may be one of the keys to preventing their development in the first place. Dog’s with a little extra meat on their bones (aka overweight) have been found to be more likely to develop these fatty tumors. Carefully-portioned meals are a great strategy to prevent unintended weight gain.
Several nutrients have also been anecdotally suggested to prevent lipomas including vitamin C, vitamin B-12, chromium and L-carnitine, and are sometimes recommended as nutritional supplements in addition to a balanced diet but scientific study is needed. Not to mention, eating a clean, fresh diet free of preservatives certainly never hurts with maintaining overall health.
Household cleaners, pesticides and other chemicals can introduce your dog to potentially harmful environmental toxins. Buying cleaners with safer ingredients and keeping your dog off the freshly sprayed grass is just another way to control your pup’s exposure to harmful chemicals that some suspect could contribute to lipoma growth.
Likewise, be conscious of toxic synthetics in plastic food bowls or other pet accessories. Lipoma-preventing or not, it’s simply good practice for your pet’s health.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish oil, a potent source of omega-3s, has got a lot of scientifically proven benefits for dogs. It may be helpful in preventing and shrinking lipomas through several modes of action.
Omega-3s may help reduce inflammation and obesity, keep the joints well lubricated and the skin and coat lustrous. Emerging evidence even shows that fish oil may slow tumor growth and possibly even shrink lipomas — but the evidence there is still pretty anecdotal.
Natural and herbal remedies lack strong scientific justification, but there are purported success stories. Claims made about these alternative treatments include slowing lipoma growth, shrinking lipoma size, and preventing lipomas altogether.
Herbs and plants asserted to hold medicinal properties, naturally support the immune system and help treat lipomas include:
|Turmeric||Grape Seed Extract|
|Chamomile and Dandelion root||Thuja tree|
|Burdock Root (Arctium lappa)||Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)|
|Chickweed (Stellaria media)||Apple Cider Vinegar|
|Violet||Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)|
|Milk Thistle||Blue-Green Algae and Phytoplankton|
|Olive Extract||Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris)|
Many of these natural plants and herbs contain bioactive ingredients and phytonutrients with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and health protecting properties, which may just explain why they’re praised in support of lipoma treatment.
Use caution however especially in regards to dose and source — we’d recommend you consult your veterinarian with all of the above.
Acupressure & Blood Flow
Many licensed veterinarians practice acupuncture and acupressure to treat a variety of ailments. While lipomas aren’t exactly on the list of treated medical conditions, acupressure is thought to promote healing and some resources exist showing acupoints to encourage mass and lipoma reduction. There aren’t any published studies showing a benefit, and the traditional veterinary community views such interventions with skepticism. Acupressure, massage and plain old exercise may also just be helping to improve circulation and reduce stress regardless of whether they truly have any effect on lipomas.
One Last Consideration
It’s important to remember that many of the complementary treatments discussed in this article aren’t informed by evidence, but rather anecdotes.
That doesn’t mean they’re not worth a shot — especially if lipomas frequent your pup’s body. Even if you decide to try one of these more holistic treatments, your vet can still serve as a valuable resource, so keep them in the loop. And surgical removal is perhaps the only sure-fire way to remove a bothersome lipoma, and is typically very well tolerated by dogs.