A lipoma is a growth of fat
cells in a thin, fibrous capsule usually found just below the skin. Lipomas aren't cancer and don't turn into cancer. They are
found most often on the torso, neck, upper thighs, upper arms, and armpits, but
they can occur almost anywhere in the body. One or more lipomas may be present
at the same time.
Lipomas are the most common noncancerous soft tissue
What causes a lipoma?
The cause of lipomas is not
completely understood, but the tendency to develop them is inherited. A minor
injury may trigger the growth. Being overweight does not cause lipomas.
What are the symptoms of a lipoma?
Are small [0.4 in. (1 cm) to
1.2 in. (3 cm)] and felt just
under the skin.
Are movable and
have a soft, rubbery consistency.
Do not cause
Remain the same size over years or grow very slowly.
Often the most bothersome symptom is the location or
increased size that makes the lipoma noticeable by others.
How are lipomas diagnosed?
A lipoma can usually be
diagnosed by its appearance alone, but your doctor may want to
remove it to make sure the growth is noncancerous.
How are lipomas treated?
Lipomas usually are not treated, because most of them don't hurt or cause problems. Your doctor may order an imaging test, such as an ultrasound. Or your doctor might remove the lipoma if it is painful, gets infected, or bothers you.
Most lipomas can be removed in the doctor's office or
outpatient surgery center. The doctor injects a
local anesthetic around the lipoma, makes an incision
in the skin, removes the growth, and closes the incision with stitches
(sutures). If the lipoma is in an area of the body that cannot be easily
reached through a simple incision in the skin, the lipoma may need to be
removed in the operating room under
Who is affected by lipomas?
Lipomas occur in all
age groups but most often appear in middle age. Single lipomas occur with equal
frequency in men and women. Multiple lipomas occur more frequently in
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerH. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine