What are Lipomas?

Slow Growing, Egg Shaped, Fatty Lumps Beneath the Skin

Lipomas are very common non-cancerous tumors that grow slowly beneath the surface of the skin. Within the subcutaneous tissue, these lumpy tumors develop from fat cells and can grow to become quite large. They can exist as a single lipoma, or there may be numerous lipomas present beneath the skin all over the body. Lipomas affect people of all ages. We do not know what causes the formation of lipomas; however, a genetic predisposition or blow to the body is suspected as possible triggers.

Symptoms and Characteristics of Lipomas

Because lipomas take many years to form and their growth rate tends to be very slow, they may not be noticed at all until they have grown so large as to become palpable or visible. This may not happen until the affected individual reaches middle age. Some of the common distinguishing characteristics and symptoms of lipomas include:

  • 2-10 cm+ Diameter Egg-Shaped Lump
  • Doughy or Rubbery Consistency
  • Soft and Smooth upon Palpation
  • Lump Moves Easily Under the Skin When Pressed
  • May Appear Anywhere
  • Most Common Sites: Shoulders, Neck, Arm, and Trunk

Diagnosis of Lipoma, Angiolipoma, Dercum Disease, and Liposarcoma

True lipomas are typically painless, although there may be some pain upon application of pressure. If a lipoma is tender, it likely has an increased blood supply and may actually be an angiolipoma or a sign or adiposis dolorosa (Dercum disease), especially if present with bruising. A noticeably enlarging lipoma that becomes painful should be mentioned to your doctor. Although rare, a liposarcoma (a fatty cell cancer) may mimic a lipoma. If there is any question, a biopsy can typically provide a definitive diagnosis.

A range of treatment options is available for lipoma patients at Allegheny Advanced Dermatology Center. Liposuction, simple excision, and elimination of the fatty tissue via a small incision are some of the options available at our Altoona clinic. Contact AADC to schedule an appointment. Call: (814) 944-7109.