Living with Lipomas: Can You Ignore Them?

In This Article

Living with Lipomas: Can You Ignore Them?

Ashitha Kareem

Ashitha Kareem

Updated on May 21, 2024

Medically verified by Dr. Arya

Fact checked by Dr. Pournami


7 min read

No one will be happy with an unwanted growth in their body, especially when it inhibits your movements and causes inconvenience in daily life.

Lipomas are slow growing non-cancerous benign tumours made of fat tissue. They are typically non-threatening diseases. However they can still be a cause for concern.

Is it just an aesthetic concern? Does ignoring them lead to health issues?

In this comprehensive guide, Mykare Health will discuss lipomas, their causes, diagnosis, and treatments options. Let’s explore the impact of lipomas in our daily life and discuss whether these growths might be concerning.

What is Lipoma?

The American Cancer Society characterises lipomas as benign tumours composed of adipose tissue.

They are soft, non-cancerous lumps that grow underneath the skin. They're made of fat and usually appear predominantly in adults. These lumps usually grow slowly and are often found between the skin and the muscle layer beneath.

Although it's rare, some people can have multiple lipomas, a condition that can run in families. Although they can form at any age they are usually seen between 40 to 60 years. All genders can get lipomas, however women are more likely to get them.

Generally, lipomas are harmless and don't need treatment. However, if a lipoma becomes bothersome, painful, or keeps growing, you might decide to have it taken out.

What causes Lipomas?

The exact cause of lipomas isn't known, but they might be linked to genetics since they often run in families.

Certain conditions can also lead to the development of multiple lipomas, including:

  • Dercum’s disease, which brings painful lipomas mainly on arms, legs, and trunk.

  • Gardner syndrome, which leads to lipomas along with other health issues.

  • Hereditary multiple lipomatosis, a genetic condition causing multiple lipomas.

  • Madelung’s disease is often found in men who consume a lot of alcohol. They are likely to get lipomas around the neck and shoulders.

Understanding Lipomas: Symptoms and Diagnosis

Lipomas are round, oval shaped movable fat deposits in adipose tissues. They are usually painless. However, depending on their location the growth may cause discomfort and inconveniences.

Most cases they are harmless. But in rare cases the growth and pressure on vital regions or nerves may cause complications or even death. They usually don’t cause pain or serious health complications, so you can often ignore them after confirming their diagnosis with an expert.

Where can Lipomas appear

Most Lipomas occur under the skin in the:

  • Arms or legs

  • Back

  • Neck and shoulders

  • Trunk (chest and torso)

  • Forehead


  • Physical examination

  • A tissue sample removed for lab examination/ Biopsy

  • An X-ray or other imaging test, such as an MRI or CT scan

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When to Seek Treatment?

Lipomas can form inside muscles or internal organs, but this doesn’t happen often. If one is causing pain or affecting your muscles, you might have to get it removed.

Let’s discuss when to seek treatment for lipomas.

  • Lipomas are usually painless. If you feel pain seek advice from a doctor.

  • The size of the lipomas may be concerning. They can be treated with less scarring minimally invasive techniques.

  • The location of lipomas can lead to complications of the disease. Lipomas pressing on nerves or joints can be uncomfortable and, at most, can be life-threatening.

  • Other associated health conditions like Dercum’s disease, Gardner syndrome, Hereditary multiple lipomatosis, Madelung’s disease etc…

  • It is rare, but some lumps can be liposarcomas. Liposarcomas are types of tumours which often have physical characteristics similar to lipomas, but can be painful and grow rapidly.

Living with Lipomas: Can You Ignore Them?

For most people living with lipoma does not cause any harm. Lipoma removals are usually preferred for cosmetic reasons rather than health issues.

Usually their existence becomes prominent when the patient drastically drops weight. Lipomas tend to increase in size with the weight gain but don’t shrink like adipose tissues during weight loss. Hence weight loss makes it look more bulged and inflamed.

Even though lipomas are harmless and painless, it is important to monitor any changes in the lesions. Doctors may also recommend recurrent examination to make sure lipomas remain harmless.

Lipoma Related Health Risks

If a lipoma is deeper inside your body you won't be able to see or feel it, but it might press on other organs or nerves. For example

  • A lipoma in part of the bowel might cause a blockage and bleeding. These can cause symptoms like abdominal pain.

  • The brachial artery was compressed between the lipoma and the humerus. It caused a significant convulsion and elastin density inconsistencies.

These cases are rare, but lipomas present deep near the bones and peripheral veins can cause neurological impact on the patient. In these cases lipomas become great causes of concern.

  • Giant lipomas (diameter>5cm) can cause pain and movement difficulties due to its size. They are also considered having high discomfort potential. So usually are recommended to be removed.

  • Angiolipomas are lipomas with blood vessels in it. They were characterised as rare and painful lipomas.

Psychological Impacts Caused by Lipomas*

Since lipomas aren’t harmful, doctors often leave them alone. But these can be a cause of psychological impact.

Visible and large lipomas can affect self esteem and can affect the daily life of a person.

A person's appearance has a great impact on their confidence. Lipomas can cause people to be extremely conscious about their look thereby reducing their confidence.

If you have experienced a change in appearance later in life, you may have developed low self-esteem because of the visible difference or disfigurement. It may have affected your sense of identity – perhaps you feel like you don’t recognise yourself or that you don’t know who you are anymore.

It can be quite concerning especially for teens, or young people who work in an environment where looks are equally important.

Treatments for Lipoma

Most lipomas do not need to be removed unless they are painful or need formal diagnosis. Some are removed for aesthetic reasons.

Traditional open surgeries were used to remove lipomas. However, now there are newer, minimally invasive surgeries like liposuction, laser lipolysis, and endoscopic removal that results in lesser scarring and reduced recovery time.

Treatments for Lipoma Removal

  • Open surgery: They are traditional methods.They cause larger incisions leading to longer healing period.

  • Minimally invasive treatment: These treatments help in less scars and shorter hospital stays. But they are expensive.

  • Robotic or laser removal: Technology aiding medical intervention helps with faster recovery and lesser post operative complications.

While lipomas are generally harmless and non-cancerous tumours, they are more than just a cosmetic concern for some.

Understanding their nature, potential causes, and treatment options is crucial for anyone dealing with or diagnosing lipomas.

Regular medical check-ups and consultations are advisable if there is any change in size, pain, or discomfort, as these could signify a need for medical intervention.

By staying informed and attentive to the health of your skin and body, you can ensure that lipomas do not negatively impact your quality of life.

Remember, while most lipomas do not pose a significant health risk, it is important to take your psychological health seriously.

Key Takeaways

Lipomas are slowly growing fatty tumours that grow under the skin.

Symptoms: bouncy, painless and harmless.

Causes: Exact cause - unknown, genetic plays major roles in lipomas.

Diagnosis: physical examination, biopsies, scan.

Potential concerns: While lipoma can be generally harmless the location,size and other related conditions can be concerning.

Treatment Options: Open surgery, Minimally Invasive Surgery, Liposuction etc.

Living with Lipoma: Most lipomas can be ignored without any significant health risks. Regular monitoring is recommended.

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