Lipomas are harmless, painless, soft nodules consisting of fat cells (adipose tissue) that grow superficially under the skin. They are the most common soft-tissue growths on human body, ranging in size from 1 to > 10 cm. They are slow-growing and occur most commonly on the trunk, shoulders and arms, but can occur almost anywhere. Typically painless, they can cause pain if they grow on or near a nerve or blood vessel. Frequently, patients have a few lipomas, but can have multiple in a genetic condition called familial multiple lipomatosis.
Because of their subtle and benign nature, most lipomas do not require treatment. An ultrasound can be used to help distinguish a lipoma from an epidermoid cyst or a ganglion cyst. Treatment can be offered for cosmetic reasons, or for large, fast-growing, or symptomatic lipomas, or for a lipoma that is firm instead of being soft. Surgical excision of fatty tissue and fibrous capsule is done in an outpatient setting under local anesthesia. An opening is made in skin through which the lipoma is surgically excised. The side effects include bleeding and scarring. Any collected specimen should be submitted for pathological evaluation by a trained dermatopathologist to rule out worrisome mimickers. Scar size may minimized by using segmental extraction technique especially for cosmetically sensitive areas. Alternative treatment options include liposuction or injection of deoxycholate, a substance that dissolves fat ( as in Kybella). Referral to a dermatology surgeon or general surgeon might be needed for larger lesions, and excision may require general anesthesia.
Talk to your dermatologist for symptomatic or growing and changing growths anywhere on your body. A customized treatment plan, if needed, can be formulated for you.