What is a lipoma?

A lipoma is a lump of fatty tissue that develops the skin. A lipoma is usually soft, but may be firm and squidgy. A lipoma may move slightly if it is pushed in one direction or another.

A lipoma develops in normal, healthy people for no particular reasons. Some people are prone to lipomas and may have more than one lipoma. Sometimes lipomas can run in families.

The growth of the lipoma can affect surrounding area and place pressure on nerves, muscle tissue, organs, bllod vessels which can lead to pain, self-conciousness or even serious health concers

Lipomas are found most often on the torso, neck, upper thighs, upper arms, and armpits, but they can occur almost anywhere in the body. One or more lipomas may be present at the same time.

Lipoma removal surgery often only requires local anesthesia and can be performed as an out-patient procedure, but this depends on the size and number of the lipomas and the method of removal.

The skin is incised over the lipoma, and the fatty tissue is meticulously dissected away. The dissection technique may, in selected cases, be combined with a “press and squeeze” method. The surgeon places the incision directly over the lump and orients it in such a way that it gets hidden by natural wrinkles and creases of the skin. It’s analogous to delivering a baby through a small access area. After the lipoma has been completely removed from under the skin, the incision will be meticulously sutured closed with dissolving sutures.

People who have a family relative with one or more lipomas have a higher risk of developing this condition. Lipomas are also more likely to occur in people aged between 40 and 60 years old. Other risk factors for developing a lipoma may include:

  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Glucose intolerance

Liposuction is a minimally invasive method that involves removal of the fatty tissue lump by making a tiny incision at the site. The surgeon may even decide to place the incision in a remote hidden site. Liposuction is more commonly used for removal lipomas on the face and other visible areas.

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Lipomas are usually harmless, so most people do not need to have surgery to remove them. People may want to remove a lipoma that:

  • is cancerous
  • is large, impinges on movement, or growing quickly
  • causes bothersome symptoms, such as pain and discomfort
  • interferes with normal body functions
  • causes distress for cosmetic reasons
  • the doctor is unable to confirm is a lipoma rather than another type of tumor


Surgical removal is the definitive treatment. If the lipoma is small, removal can be performed as a simple day-surgery procedure under local anaesthesia. Sometimes, some patients may come to us with a huge lipoma, which can be more than 20cm in diameter. For such large lumps, it is sometimes more comfortable for the patient to have the lump removed under general anaesthesia.