What is a lipoma?

A lipoma is a round or oval-shaped lump of tissue that grows just beneath the skin. It’s made of fat, moves easily when you touch it and doesn’t usually cause pain. Lipomas can appear anywhere on the body, but they’re most common on the back, trunk (torso), arms, shoulders and neck.
Lipomas are benign soft tissue tumors. They grow slowly and are not cancerous. Most lipomas don’t need treatment. If a lipoma is bothering you, your healthcare provider can remove it with an outpatient procedure.
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How common are lipomas?

Lipomas are very common. About 1 of every 1,000 people has a lipoma. Lipomas appear most often between ages 40 and 60, but they can develop at any age. They can even be present at birth. Lipomas affect people of all genders, but they are slightly more common in women.

Symptoms And Causes

What are the symptoms of a lipoma?

Lipomas aren’t usually painful, but they can be uncomfortable if they press against a nerve or develop near a joint. Many people who have a lipoma don’t notice any symptoms. Lipomas are usually:

Where do lipomas grow?

Lipomas can develop anywhere on the body. Rarely, lipomas grow on the muscles, internal organs or brain. The majority of people with a lipoma only have one, although more than one lipoma can grow. Most lipomas develop just under the skin on the:

What causes a lipoma?

Healthcare providers aren’t sure what causes lipomas to grow. They are inherited (passed down through families). You’re more likely to develop a lipoma if someone in your family has one.
Some conditions cause multiple lipomas to form on the body. Lipoma-causing conditions include:

Diagnosis And Tests

How are lipomas diagnosed?

Providers usually diagnose a lipoma during a physical examination. Your provider will touch the lipoma and ask if it’s painful or tender. You may need a biopsy to confirm that the lipoma isn’t cancer. During this procedure, your provider removes a sample of the lipoma and sends it to a lab for testing.
Oftentimes, these may be mistaken for a cyst. To see a clear picture of this lump, your provider may order an imaging test such as an ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, or computed tomography (CT) scan . These imaging studies help your provider determine if it is a lipoma versus a cyst. It can also help identify the lipoma’s location and how deep it is if it has blood vessels and whether it’s pressing against nerves or other tissues.

What are the types of lipomas?

All lipomas are made of fat. Some lipomas also contain blood vessels or other tissues. There are several types of lipomas, including:

Management And Treatment

What is the treatment for lipomas?

Most lipomas don’t need treatment. If a lipoma is bothering you, your provider can remove it surgically. Lipoma removal procedures are safe and effective, and you can usually go home the same day.
As an alternative to lipoma surgery, your provider may recommend liposuction to remove the lipoma. Your provider uses a long, thin needle to remove fatty tissue from the growth.

Doctors & Hospitals

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