Genetic mutation and heredity are the main factors that can cause a neck lipoma. Lipomas, benign tumors made of fatty tissue, appear in middle age in the neck, back and limbs. They are considered harmless by the medical community. Surgical treatment is only recommended if a lipoma causes discomfort and/or grows beyond a certain size. Surgery, if performed, only requires the patient to have a local anesthetic; more surgeries may be necessary if the lipoma reappears due to heredity factors.
A lipoma is a type of benign tumor that roughly one percent of adults develop in middle age. They tend to grow just under the skin in the fatty layer, causing a visible bump. In rarer cases they can develop within the muscle fibers of the limbs, causing soreness and/or pain. A neck lipoma falls into the first category. They are hard to the touch, and can move somewhat if one applies pressure with his or her fingers.
The first cause of a lipoma is genetic mutation. Genetic mutation is the cause of many tumors and cancers. In this case, the abnormal and continued replication of a single fat cell causes the lump to form. As the tumor cannot metastasize to other organs or tissues, it is not life threatening. As the cause is cell mutation, though, the lipoma may grow beyond the common 1 to 2 centimeters in diameter; some neck lipomas can grow larger than a baseball.
The second possible cause of a neck lipoma is a heredity condition known as lipomatosis. This condition is characterized by multiple lipomas simultaneously appearing over the body. Multiple lipomas in no way indicate that the condition has metastasized; it is due to a chromosomal defect. Though one is born with this defective gene, the condition does not develop until middle age or later. As many lipomas may be visible at once, one may consider surgical removal to restore one's previous cosmetic appearance.
Due to its location, having a neck lipoma surgically removed is a simple procedure. It is an outpatient procedure where one only needs a local anesthetic rather than complete sedation. Endoscopy or simple excision are the most popular methods. In many cases, a patient can return home the same day and generally does not have to limit life activities during the healing process. Those with lipomatosis may have to have additional surgeries if a neck lipoma should reappear.