Mar 1, 2002 Table of Contents

Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education Web site.

Information from Your Family Doctor

What Are Lipomas?

Am Fam Physician. 2002 Mar 1;65(5):905.

What are lipomas?

Lipomas are benign, slow-growing tumors that come from fat cells. They are not cancer. They are usually round, moveable, flattened lumps under the skin. They feel soft and doughy or rubbery. Lipomas usually grow in the neck, shoulders, back, or arms. They can occur at any age, but they often appear when you're between 40 and 60 years of age. Sometimes they run in families. Sometimes they are caused by an injury. Most lipomas do not hurt unless they are squeezed or bruised.

How do I know that what I have is a lipoma?

Usually a lipoma has been growing for years before you might notice it. It is fairly common to have more than one. If you notice a lump or swelling anywhere on your body, you should have it checked by your family doctor. Tests are usually not needed. Your doctor can diagnose a lipoma just by looking at it and feeling the firmness of the lump.

How are lipomas treated?

Because lipomas are almost always benign (not cancer), they usually do not need treatment. If they are painful or are growing quickly, you may want to have treatment. Treatment options include steroid shots, liposuction, or surgery. Your doctor can help you decide what is best for you.


This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at http://familydoctor.org.

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.

Copyright © 2002 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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