A lipoma is a growth of fat cells in a thin, fibrous capsule usually found just below the skin. Lipomas are found most often on the torso, neck, upper thighs, upper arms, and armpits, but they can occur almost anywhere in the body. One or more lipomas may be present at the same time. Lipomas are the most common noncancerous soft tissue growth.
The cause of lipomas is not completely understood, but the tendency to develop them is inherited. A minor injury may trigger the growth. Being overweight does not cause lipomas.
- Are small [0.4 in. (1 cm) to 1.2 in. (3 cm)] and felt just under the skin.
- Are movable and have a soft, rubbery consistency.
- Do not cause pain.
- Remain the same size over years or grow very slowly.
- Often the most bothersome symptom is the location or increased size that makes the lipoma noticeable by others.
Most lipomas can be removed in the doctor’s office or outpatient surgery center. The doctor injects a local anesthetic around the lipoma, makes an incision in the skin, removes the growth, and closes the incision with stitches (sutures). If the lipoma is in an area of the body that cannot be easily reached through a simple incision in the skin, the lipoma may need to be removed in the operating room under general anesthesia.