Benign (noncancerous) tumor that is made up of fat cells. Lipomas commonly occur under the skin and may be felt as diffuse, soft, doughy, round, mobile swellings, particularly over the shoulders and trunk. The overlying skin is normal.

They seldom cause problems and are easily removed surgically if they bother you. The procedure is typically covered by insurance.

We do not know why fatty lipomas appear, nor do we know why some persons get many of them. Sometimes, people who have multiple fatty lipomas have a family history of this problem. The usual age of onset is 40 to 60 years old. Single fatty lipomas are more common in women. Multiple lipomas (Lipomatosis) is more common in men.

Small lipomas generally do not need treatment, unless they bother you. However larger lipomas are usually removed because of their size. Insurance covers the cost of these procedures.

If a lipoma tumor becomes infected, an antibiotic taken by mouth and minor surgery done in the office may be needed to relieve the pressure and discomfort. This is done by making a small opening into the skin and draining the lipoma tumor. Lipomas often recur after this type of surgery because the sac or wall is left behind.

To remove a lipoma tumor completely, it has to be excised (cut out) in order to remove the sac or lipoma wall, as well as the entire lipoma. A local anesthetic is used to numb the skin. Stitches are used to close the skin opening and are removed 3-4 days after the surgery.

Excision will usually cure a lipoma. However, sometimes a lipoma tumor will come back and require a second surgery.

Sometimes, liposuction can be used for lipoma removal, especially when:
- a large lipoma (>10cm)
- lipomas in areas where excision may cause a significant scar
- lipomas in areas not amenable to excision

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