Surgery on growth enables Skip to run again!

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Over a year ago, Skip’s owner brought him in for a check up with us because she was worried about a mass growing in his axilla (armpit). We tested the mass and confirmed that it was a non-cancerous benign fatty tumour (lipoma). We recommended that in its current state there was no need to remove it. Generally, lipomas are innocent fat accumulations which neither grow to cause problems nor spread through the body.

However, we sometimes find that lipomas located in the axilla (and sometimes in the groin) can continue to grow to astonishing sizes. And so it was that, after several months of slow but steady growth, poor Skip was starting to struggle to walk because of the increasing size of his lipoma. His front leg was being pushed out so that he had to adopt an odd gait and he was waddling, not walking normally. We therefore felt that it was time to remove the fatty mass to relieve the distortion to his leg and allow him move more freely.

Lipomas are not generally difficult to remove and often come out like an implant (as shown in the photo below). However, the problem comes in dealing with the cavity left behind. Removing the mass leaves a considerable pocket which must be closed or drained to prevent large amounts of fluid accumulation, bruising, problems with wound healing and increased risk of infection. An ‘open’ drain will drain the space effectively but we avoid them if at all possible because they make a terrible mess: the fluid simply seeps out around the rubber drain protruding from the patient and down the side of their fur!

Instead we prefer to meticulously ‘close’ the ‘dead space’ (pocket) with multiple sutures. Although this is very fiddly surgery and often quite demanding it gives a far superior end result and much less complications and trauma to the dog and the owner.

We’re delighted that Skip’s wound has healed really well and he now has the full function of his leg back again.

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Skip’s lipoma showing clear distortion of his armpit and flank.

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The lipoma

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Post surgery: Skip’s leg is now realigned.