Hartford Hospital

Search for

Definition | Causes | Risk Factors | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Prevention

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
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

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

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your chances of developing 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:

  • 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 Society of Dermatology

http://www.asd.org

American Academy of Family Physicians

http://familydoctor.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons

http://www.plasticsurgery.ca

References:

Lipoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated September 28, 2011. Accessed June 4, 2013.

Lipomas. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic_disorders/benign_skin_tumors/lipomas.html. Updated February 2012. Accessed June 4, 2013.

Lipoplasty. American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/liposuction.html. Accessed June 4, 2013.

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

Last reviewed June 2013 by Brian Randall, 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.