Lipoma types and when does it require surgery?

Lipomas are harmless lumps that can form under the skin. These are soft tissues that rarely reach a size larger than 2 cm. Lesions larger than 5 cm, called large lipomas, can occur anywhere in the body but are mostly found in the upper extremities.

If they do not have cancer, lipomas usually do not need treatment unless they affect your daily life.


Signs and symptoms of lipomas

Unless they cause irritation or occur in undesired parts of the body, most lipomas are harmless.

In the body, lipomas are round and a mass of tissue that moves under the skin. If the tissues are deep, they can grow larger and less stable.

Different Types of lipomas

Depending on their composition, your doctor may diagnose one of the following types of lipomas: 

  • Adenolipoma
  • Angiolipoma
  • Chondroid lipoma
  • Fibrolipoma
  • Myelolipoma
  • Myolipoma
  • Myxolipoma
  • Ossifying lipoma
  • Sclerotic lipoma

Severe or tender lipomas are usually angiolipomas, one of the most common forms of lipomas.

Causes of Lipoma

Doctors have not yet figured out what causes lipomas or how to prevent them. Sometimes they run in families or are caused by injuries. Although they are made of fatty tissue, they are not the cause of obesity.

They occur most often in patients between the ages of 40-60 but can occur at any age.

A few medical disorders also make a person more likely to develop lipomas. These are:

Dercum Disease (adiposis dolorosa)

Anyone can get Dercume, although it is more common in obese and postmenopausal women. In addition to the unusually painful lipomas, this condition causes general obesity, fatigue, and mental disorders.

Proteus syndrome

A condition that causes growth and imbalance in bones, organs, and skin, Proteus syndrome also causes fatty deposits and lipomas.

When to see a doctor if you get lipomas?

Whenever you get a lump, you should see a doctor immediately to rule out cancer and monitor any new growths. If the lipoma is left untreated for a long time, it will continue to grow. Growth occurs gradually, and the lump may grow near the nerves and blood vessels. In the long run, lipomas will not cause pain, but fatty tissue may begin to constrict blood vessels as the lump grows. It can cause pain and discomfort that can sometimes be hard to bear. It is a common stage where a person with lipoma decides to visit a doctor.

Apart from pain, leaving untreated lipomas is not recommended as treatment for a large lipoma is very difficult. Removing the lipoma without damaging the muscles and surrounding tissues is complicated at this stage. In addition, by ignoring lipoma, you may risk your life because a cancerous tumor called liposarcoma also has similar symptoms. Therefore, even if you do not need lipoma surgery, it is still important to diagnose it.

Diagnosis of lipomas

Your doctor will want to check your lump to ensure it is not liposarcoma, a fatty cancerous tumor. They usually grow faster and are more painful than lipomas.

Most lipomas can be detected by physical examination and patient history. Doctors can identify these by feeling the size, consistency, and mobility. If necessary, they may also recommend any of the following tests to understand the lipoma or its properties better:

  • X-rays
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scans.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners.
  • Biopsy

Lipoma Treatment

Because they are not harmful, most lipomas only need to be monitored. You need to schedule regular visits to your doctor to check for any changes.

Even if the lipoma is harmless, you may wish to have the lipoma removed or reduced in size. Some people find their lipomas uncomfortable or do not like the physical appearance of lipomas.

Surgical removal is a complete lipoma treatment, but minor invasive procedures have become quite common in recent years. Although these rare procedures do not completely remove a lipoma, they can reduce its size. Procedures include:


The most common and effective lipoma treatment is surgery. During surgery, your doctor will surgically remove the tumor. Lipomas rarely grow back, but you can get rid of them again if they do.

Steroid injections

Minor lipomas can be cured with steroids. Steroids cause the fat in lipoma to atrophy. If necessary, the injection can be repeated several times.


Liposuction cannot eradicate all lipoma but can reduce it. Some people choose them in areas where the scars will be most noticeable.


 A doctor can remove a lipoma surgically if it causes pain or other symptoms or if a person wants to get rid of it for cosmetic reasons. Fatty lumps can be dangerous or even cancerous. It is advisable to consult a doctor and get it diagnosed.

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