What is a lipoma?

A lipoma is a benign lump or mass that is made up of fat cells (adipocytes). Lipomas are a common, benign (noncancerous) type of slow-growing tumor and are the most common benign tumors situated under the skin. They most often develop just under the skin in the subcutaneous tissue, located beneath the skin and above the muscle. Lipomas can grow large in size, and multiple growths can develop, most commonly in the back, neck, shoulders or arms. Less commonly, lipomas can grow on almost any organ in the body.

Lipomas generally develop slowly, forming round, flattened lumps that are soft or spongy in texture and easily moved around under the skin. Lipomas can be unsightly, but they usually do not cause any pain, discomfort or tenderness.

Lipomas may begin to grow after a tissue injury or trauma, and they tend to run in families. Lipomas primarily occur in people who are middle-aged or older and are rare in children. In most cases, lipomas do not require treatment, although treatment is needed in some cases if the location or size of a lipoma causes pain, weakness, or other problems.

Seek prompt medical care if you develop a lump or swollen area. A determination of whether the lump is benign or cancerous requires a medical examination by a licensed health care provider.  In rare cases, lipomas may occur in conjunction with a more serious condition, such as familial multiple lipomatosis or adiposis dolorosa.


What are the symptoms of a lipoma?

The symptoms of a lipoma typically include the formation of a lump or multiple lumps under the skin. Lipomas typically grow slowly, and you may not even notice the appearance of a lipoma for years. The most common sites for lipomas include the neck, shoulders, back, abdomen, arms or legs, but they can also grow on your internal organs.

Most often, lipomas are relatively small, abo... Read more about lipomasymptoms


What causes a lipoma?

The reason why some people develop lipomas is not known, although family history appears to play a role. You are more likely to develop a lipoma if you have a parent or sibling with a lipoma. People who develop more than one lipoma may have an extremely rare inherited disorder called familial multiple lipomatosis.

Lipomas can also grow in subcutaneous tissue that has been injured ... Read more about lipomacauses


How is a lipoma treated?

Most lipomas do not require treatment. Generally, they are only removed if they are painful or grow too quickly. You may also need to have lipomas removed if they cause serious cosmetic problems that interfere with your ability to have a normal life.

Once a lump under your skin is diagnosed as a benign (noncancerous) lipoma, your physician or health care provider will determine yo... Read more about lipomatreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 6, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Skin, Hair and Nails

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