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Definition

A lipoma is a harmless lump of fat. There are several types, usually classified by where they appear. Lipomas may occur anywhere and are commonly are found just beneath the skin.

Benign Tumor

benign tumor

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Causes

Lipomas have no known cause. They may be related to a previous injury to the tissue.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of a lipoma include:

  • Family history
  • Lipomatosis, a hereditary condition that results in lipomas all over the body
  • Adiposis dolorosa, a rare condition that results in painful lipomas
Symptoms

Lipomas are usually soft, painless, moveable lumps under the skin. They usually don't cause symptoms.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The diagnosis is usually based on smoothness, softness, and ease of movement under the skin. Your doctor may do a biopsy to rule out other skin conditions.

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. You may want to leave the lump alone. Treatment options include:

  • Injections to reduce the size of the lipoma
  • Laser treatment (given under the skin) to remove the lipoma
  • Surgical excision—lipomas are cut out
  • Liposuction—removes excess fat from under the skin
Prevention

There are no current guidelines to prevent lipoma.

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Dermatology
http://www.aad.org

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Dermatology Association
http://www.dermatology.ca

The Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons
http://www.plasticsurgery.ca

References:

Common benign skin lesions. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 6, 2014. Accessed September 2, 2015.

Lipomas. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic-disorders/benign-skin-tumors-growths-and-vascular-lesions/lipomas. Updated March 2013. Accessed September 2, 2015.

Lipoplasty. American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/liposuction.html. Accessed September 2, 2015.

Salam GA. Lipoma excision. Am Fam Physician. 2002;65(5):901-904.



Last reviewed September 2015 by James Cornell, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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