Lipoma

What is a lipoma?

Lipoma is a benign (noncancerous) lump made up of fat cells. Lipomas grow under the skin in between the dermis and subcutaneous tissue. These slow-growing lumps typically move readily under the skin when under pressure and its size can range from the size of a pea to a few centimeters in diameter. 

Did you know…

There are numerous variants of lipomas. Lipomas that are painful are called angiolipomas. They have an increased number of small blood vessels. Angiolipomas can also signify an underlying disease, such as adiposis dolorosa or Dercum’s disease, so it’s essential to visit your primary care provider or dermatologist for an evaluation. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes lipomas?

Currently, the cause of lipomas is unknown. Some researchers believe that genetics may be involved, especially for those with a family history of tumors. There are some incidences when traumatic injuries to specific body parts can trigger the growth of lipomas, too. 

What are the symptoms of lipoma?

Most lipomas appear underneath the skin along the shoulders, chest, back, arms, bottoms, and thighs. Some common symptoms are:

  • Soft and doughy to the touch
  • Moves quickly with slight pressure 
  • Slow-growing, and typically less than 2 inches in diameter 
  • Sometimes painful if they grow along nerves and blood vessels.

In rare cases, deep-seated liposarcomas tumors can develop along the body. Despite its rarity, it’s essential to check with your dermatologist for a thorough examination. 

How are lipomas treated?

Most lipomas are surgically removed, and at Borealis Dermatology, the providers remove it with a simple surgical excision. A local anesthesia is first injected to numb the affected area and, once you are completely numb in the area, a surgical incision is made. The lipoma is carefully removed and the open wound will be closed with stitches. A pressure dressing is applied to ensure proper healing. You will be asked to make a follow-up appointment in 7-14 days to remove the stitches and monitor the area.

What does recovery look like after lipoma removal? 

The wound will take approximately two weeks to heal for large lipomas with stitches. During this time, it’s important to avoid strenuous activity to prevent the wound from reopening. Usually, people after lipoma removal can return to daily activities the next day. For at-home care, dressings should be replaced, wash the area with gentle soap, and apply Aquaphor Healing Ointment to promote healing. The stitches can be removed within 7-14 days at the office.