A lipoma is a slow-growing, fatty lump that’s most often between your skin and the underlying muscle layer. Often a lipoma is easy to identify because it moves readily with slight finger pressure. It’s doughy to touch and usually not tender. You may have more than one lipoma. Lipomas can occur at any age, but they’re most often detected during adulthood.

A lipoma isn’t cancer and is usually harmless. Treatment generally isn’t necessary, but if the lipoma bothers you, is painful or is growing, you may want to have it removed.

Lipomas are typically:

  1. Situated just under your skin.They commonly occur in the neck, shoulders, back, abdomen, arms and thighs.
  2. Soft and doughy to the touch. They also move easily with slight finger pressure.
  3. Generally small. Lipomas are typically less than 2 inches (5 centimeters) in diameter, but they can grow larger.
  4. Sometimes painful. Lipomas can be painful if they grow and press on nearby nerves or if they contain many blood vessels.

When to see a doctor

A lipoma is rarely a serious medical condition. But if you notice a lump or swelling anywhere on your body, have it checked by your doctor.

The diagnosis is usually made by non-invasive imaging such as ultrasound or CT scan, and this imaging can help show if the lipoma is in a dangerous location, and what surgical technique should be used to remove it. Typically at City Surgical Care we use image guided micro-cannula liposuction if at all possible. We have found this is a very effective technique in the right hands that causes the least scarring, trauma and downtime. It does however require a significant amount of specialized surgical expertise in this particular technique.