Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education website.

brand logo

Am Fam Physician. 2002;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.

Continue Reading


More in AFP

More in Pubmed

Copyright © 2002 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP.  See permissions for copyright questions and/or permission requests.