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What is it?

It is a benign tumor, made of fat cells, that appears under the skin (subcutaneous layer). Although benign, lipomas can undergo intensive growth, causing great discomfort.

Characteristics and symptoms

Lipomas form palpable, firm and elastic lesions, that elevate the skin. Some can be quite soft. The skin covering them presents normal aspect. its size can vary from very small to several inches in diameter and growth tends to be slow.

In the photos below, there is a lipoma in its initial stage and after two years of development. It is easily noticeable the increasing in size during this period.

In most cases, lipomas are asymptomatic but, rarely, pain may be present. Sometimes the tumor can only be perceived by palpation, when a rounded lump can be noticed beneath the skin.

Lipomas can be single or multiple. The multiple form, known as lipomatosis, is usually a family tendency and lesions can be painful when touched. A biopsy of these lesions may show that they are, in fact, angiolipomas.


Treatment is usually simple, done by a small surgery. The surgical removal is extremely effective and can be performed at the office most of the times. Appropriate surgical techniques allow even large lipomas to be removed through small incisions. Liposuction is also indicated in some cases.

Sometimes the lipoma is located within or below the muscle, making it difficult to remove by usual techniques and impossible by liposuction.

Lipomas are clinically very suggestive, however, other lesions may resemble them, especially the cysts.

It is important to note that other subcutaneous lesions may resemble lipomas, including malignant lesions such as sarcomas and cutaneous metastases. In the occurrence of a subcutaneous lesion, one should search for a dermatologist advice.

Related articles

- Cysts
- Syringoma

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