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Body Treatment

Lipoma Removal


A lipoma is a benign tissue located just beneath the skin. It is composed of fat tissues and often round or oval-shaped. A lipoma can appear anywhere but is commonly found on areas such as the back, torso, arms, shoulders and neck.

A lipoma appears as a lump and often develops between the skin and the underlying muscle. To the touch, it feels soft and moves when slight pressure is applied. Made of fat, it is harmless, and although treatment generally isn't necessary, you may consider removing it if it is painful or growing. It is a soft, fatty lump under the skin.

How common are lipomas?

Lipomas are common and can affect persons of any age, even at birth, although it is more prevalent among people between 40 and 60. They are also more common in women.

Can I burst The lipoma myself?

Lipoma removal should be done by a qualified medical doctor who is trained and experienced in doing so.

Characteristics of a lipoma

Round or oval-shaped and symmetrical. A large lipoma may appear as a dome-shaped lump.

Usually about TWO inches in diameter, but some can be as wide as SIX inches.

It is located just beneath the skin and move when touched.

It does not spread to surrounding tissues, but it may cause pain or discomfort depending on their location, size and the presence of blood vessels.

Where do lipomas grow?


Lipomas can develop anywhere but rarely grow on muscles, brain or internal organs. Most affected persons will only have one, although in some cases, there may be more than one that develops.

Common areas include:

  • Arms or legs
  • Back
  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Trunk (chest and torso)
  • Forehead

Lipomas can cause discomfort if they are pressing against a nerve or contain blood vessels. They can also affect muscle growth if they occur at depth. In such cases, it is usually recommended for the lipomas to be removed.


Lipomas are made of fat, and some contain blood vessels and other tissues.

The different types of lipomas include:


An angiolipoma contains fat and blood vessels and is often painful.


A conventional lipoma contains white fat cells, which store energy. It is the most common type.


This lipoma type is made up of fat and fibrous tissue.


A lipoma of this type contains brown fat. Brown fat cells generate heat and help regulate body temperature.


This type of lipoma contains fat and tissues that produce blood cells.

Spindle cell

Fat cells in this type are longer than wide.


It contains fat cells of various sizes and shapes.


Most people who have lipoma don't experience any symptoms. It can, nonetheless, be uncomfortable when it's pressing against a nerve or develops near a joint.

Some medical conditions may cause lipoma, and these include:


Dercum's disease (Adiposis Dolorosa)

A rare disorder that causes painful lipomas to grow, most often on the arms, legs and trunk. The condition is also known as adiposis dolorosa or Anders' syndrome.

Image Source: [2]


Gardner syndrome

A form of a disorder called familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). It causes lipomas and also a range of other health problems.


Hereditary multiple lipomatosis

Hereditary multiple lipomatosis is inherited and also known as Familial Multiple Lipomatosis (FML).

Image source: The arm of a patient with FML [3]


Madelung's disease

Occurs in men who indulge in excessive alcohol consumption and risk developing this condition, also known as multiple symmetric lipomatosis. The condition causes lipoma to form around the neck and shoulders.

Image Source: [4]

Can lipoma turn cancerous?

Liposarcomas are cancerous tumours of the fat cells and are soft tissue sarcomas. Very rarely does a lipoma turn into a cancerous sarcoma, but a doctor must be informed if there are changes to the lipoma or if new lumps develop. The doctor will then schedule a biopsy to be done on a sample of the lipoma for further evaluation.

Is a lipoma a cyst or tumour?

Lipomas are considered to be benign tumours and are typically harmless. It grows slowly between the skin and the underlying muscle layer.


Lipomas will not go away without surgical intervention. Most people have them removed for cosmetic reasons, while some are because of the discomfort and pain they cause. It is always best to get a doctor's advice to ascertain the true condition.


Lipoma removal surgery

The most effective way to get rid of a lipoma is through lipoma removal surgery (lipoma excision).  During the procedure, the doctor will inject a local anaesthetic around the lipoma to numb the area.  Once the anaesthesia has taken effect, the doctor will make a small incision in your skin and excise the lipoma.

Dr Ivan Puah

Lipoma removal via surgery is a definitive treatment. Suspect that you have lipoma? Contact us today for more information or further assistance.

Dr Ivan Puah

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lipoma removal FAQS

Why do people get lipomas?

Lipomas often appear after an injury, although it cannot be firmly established that such trauma causes their formation. Genetics can play a part. For some, having a rare condition like Madelung's disease can affect their appearance.

Most people do not even realise they have lipomas, and most lipomas do not require treatment. A lipoma that is removed rarely experiences regrowth, but there is a chance of another developing at a different spot.

How are lipomas diagnosed?

A lipoma is commonly diagnosed via a physical examination. A biopsy may also be ordered to confirm that it is not cancerous. A sample of the lipoma will be removed and sent for a lab test to facilitate this.

A lipoma is sometimes mistaken to be a cyst. Confirmation may be needed in imaging tests such as an Ultrasound, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan, or Computed Tomography (CT) scan. These not only help in determining whether the growth is a lipoma or a cyst but also in determining the location and the depth of the growth.

The tests can also reveal whether the growth is pressing against the nerves or other tissues.

Can lipomas be prevented?

As lipomas are considered hereditary, it is not possible to prevent their growth.

When should I see my healthcare provider about lipomas?

You should see a doctor if you notice any growth or lump under the skin for a proper evaluation.

This is to rule out any possible serious conditions such as liposarcoma, a type of cancer. Liposarcoma and lipoma share similar signs.

Should I be concerned about lipomas?

Most lipomas do not cause issues, and many people can live with them. They can be unsightly, which drives an individual to seek removal treatment. However, if a lipoma causes discomfort or pain, it is highly recommended that an affected person approach a doctor for help. This also applies if the lipoma's size and location are of concern.

Do lipomas hurt when pressed?

If a lipoma is pressing on a nerve, it is generally painful, especially to the touch. The degree of pain varies; for some individuals, the pain comes and goes, while for others, it is constant.

Can exercise reduce lipomas?

No. Lipomas can only be removed via a surgical procedure.


​​[1] Peev I, Spasevska L, Mirchevska E, Tudzarova-Gjorgova S. Liposuction Assisted Lipoma Removal - Option or Alternative? Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2017 Oct 14;5(6):766-770. doi: 10.3889/oamjms.2017.186. PMID: 29104686; PMCID: PMC5661715.

[2] Molina, Juliana D'Andrea, Gisele Alborghetti Nai, Tatiana Cristina Pedro Cordeiro de Andrade, and Marilda Aparecida Milanez Morgado de Abreu. "Dercum's disease: a rare and underdiagnosed disease." Anais brasileiros de dermatologia 94 (2019): 251-253.

[3] CC-BY-SA-4.0

[4] Kostopoulos, Georgios & Tzikos, Georgios & Kostogloudis, Nikolaos & Toulis, Konstantinos. (2020). Madelung’s disease: a man with a phenotype suggestive of anabolic steroid use. 10.3205/gpras000054.


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