A lipoma is a soft fatty lump. It is a benign (noncancerous) growth made up from fat cells that clump together. A lipoma can occur in any part of the body where there are fat cells. Lipomas typically feel soft and can be felt to move slightly under your skin when you press on them.

Lipomas under the skin are the most common. Lipoma often form in the fatty tissue under the skin. They vary in size from pea size to several centimeters in diameter. The most common sites where lipoma develop are on the shoulders, the chest and the back.

Anyone can develop a lipoma at any age. Lipoma is common - about 1 in 100 people develop one or more lipoma. Some people inherit a tendency to develop lipoma and may have several on different parts of the body.  Lipoma can occur in people who are normal weight as well as people who are overweight.

What are the symptoms of a lipoma and are they harmful?

In themselves, lipoma are not serious and most lipomas cause no symptoms or problems. They grow very slowly. For example, if one presses on a nerve it may cause pain. Also, rarely, a lipoma may develop in the gut wall and cause problems such as pain or a blockage of the gut.

Do I need any treatment for a lipoma?

Usually not. If you are not bothered by a lipoma that develops, then it is best just to leave it alone. However, some people want lipomas that are unsightly to be removed for cosmetic reasons.

For a lipoma that forms under the skin, usually it can be removed by a simple minor operation. Some local anaesthetic is injected into the skin over the lipoma. Once the overlying skin is numbed by the local anaesthetic, an incision (cut) is made over the lipoma. The lipoma is then removed and cut away from the underlying tissue. The wound is then stitched up. A fine scar will be left.

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