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
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.
Often the most bothersome symptom is the location or
increased size that makes the lipoma noticeable by others.
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.
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
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 StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerH. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Current as ofOctober 13, 2016
Current as of:
October 13, 2016
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
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Last modified on: 8 September 2017