Lumps in or just below the skin are very common. Most do not give any symptoms and the vast majority are benign. People tend to report them if
they are particularly large, unsightly, get in the way (such as catching on clothing or when shaving), if they cause symptoms such as itching or pain, or
simply because they have noticed a new lump and are concerned about it.
What causes these lumps?
The two commonest superficial lumps that I see are sebaceous cysts which arise from glands in the skin that become blocked and swell, and fatty
lumps called lipomas. Sometimes it is necessary to do further tests such as an ultrasound or MRI scan to get a detailed picture of what the lump is and
where it is coming from.
Do I need to have surgery?
An operation is usually the only way to get rid of these lumps, however in many cases simple reassurance that it is a benign problem is all that is
needed. If it is causing problems and needs to be removed then I will discuss this with you in clinic in more detail. Usually they are removed using
local anaesthetic (an injection to freeze the skin to allow the lump to be removed without pain but whilst you are still awake) and this operation is
done as a day case (i.e. you attend the hospital, have the operation and go home all on the same day). Once removed, the lump is sent to the pathology
lab to confirm the diagnosis.