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What Is a Lipoma?

A lipoma is a growth of fat cells in a thin fibrous capsule usually found just below the skin. Lipomas are the most common non-cancerous tissue growth.

Incidence: Even though lipoma can occur in all ages, it is more commonly seen in the 3rd or 4th decade of life. Women suffer more than men; and usually from single lipoma than multiple lipomas. In the case of men, it is mostly multiple. The multiple occurrence of lipoma is called adiposa dolorosa which can run in families. Childhood (congenital) lipomas are mostly inheritated and are rare.

Common sites: Lipoma can occur anywhere in the body. The common occurrence sites are fat depositing areas like nape of the neck, shoulder, back, trunk, buttocks, hips, thighs, arms, forearms and belly (abdomen muscles). Mostly lipoma is subcutaneous, but it can also occur in deeper tissues like subserous (liver, lungs, heart and so on), subsynovial (joints), submucous (oral, esophagus), subperitoneal (inside abdomen), intramuscular and so on.

What Causes Of Lipoma

The cause of lipomas is not completely understood, but the tendency to develop them is inherited. A minor injury may trigger the growth. Some people think that the lipoma is due to excess fat content of the body or obesity and so they keep on doing exercise and diet restriction to reduce weight. Even after reducing weight considerably, there won't be any change in the lipoma. Also, sometimes they are noticed with more visibility or prominence than before, since they might have been in the fat. So being overweight does not cause lipomas.

What Are the Symptoms of Lipoma?

Lipomas usually:

  • Are Small (0.4 Inches To 1.2 Inches) And Felt Just Under The Skin
  • Are Movable And Have A Soft, Rubbery Consistency
  • Do Not Cause Pain
  • Remain The Same Size Over Years Or Grow Very Slowly

Often the most bothersome symptom is the location or increased size that makes the lipoma noticeable by others.

How Are Lipomas Diagnosed 

A lipoma can usually be diagnosed by its appearance alone. If there is any doubt your doctor may do other tests such as removal of a tissue sample (biopsy) for examination in a laboratory to make sure the growth is noncancerous.