About Lipomas

Lipomas are benign growths, but there are still many reasons a patient may seek lipoma treatment or removal. At Lipoma Center Los Angeles, our surgeons specialize in effective lipoma treatment with a focus on optimal cosmetic outcomes.

What is a Lipoma?

A lipoma is a slow-growing, fatty tumor or lump contained in a thin, fibrous capsule, often located between the skin and the underlying muscle layer. Lipomas are not painful and they move easily when touched. While they can occur almost anywhere on the body, they are most commonly seen on the neck, torso, upper arms, upper thighs and armpits.

Lipomas are benign, meaning they are not cancerous, nor will they develop into cancer. However, if you have a growth similar to what's described above, it is important to seek the care of a doctor to ensure it is a lipoma and not something else.1

Lipoma Symptoms

Ultimately, a doctor must be the one to diagnose a lipoma. Until that time, there are several identifying factors that can help patients determine the likelihood that a growth is a lipoma and not something else.

Characteristics and symptoms of lipomas include the following:

  • They are usually located directly under the skin
  • They are round or oval in shape
  • They occur most commonly in the neck, shoulders, back, abdomen, arms and thighs
  • They grow very slowly
  • They feel doughy and soft
  • They move easily when touched
  • They are typically small, not more than two inches in diameter
  • Lipomas are generally not painful unless they press against a nerve or contain blood vessels

While the above characteristics can help patients determine the likelihood of lipomas, they are not sufficient for a full diagnosis. Lipomas are noncancerous soft tissue tumors, but they do share some characteristics with harmful conditions. Because of this, it is crucial that patients seek professional care if they experience any unusual growth.

Risk Factors: Who Gets Lipomas?

The cause of lipomas is unknown. Roughly 1 in every 1,000 people will develop a lipoma, though some people are more likely to develop them than others.2

Risk factors for developing a lipoma include:

  • Gender: women are slightly more likely to develop lipomas than men.
  • Heredity: If a family member has one or more lipomas, it increases the risk.
  • Age: While lipomas can appear at any age, they are more common in middle-aged people between the ages of 40 and 60.
  • Certain medical conditions: Rarely, lipomas are associated with multiple hereditary lipomatosis, adiposis dolorosa, Cowden syndrome, Madelung disease and Gardner's syndrome.3

Lipoma Testing & Diagnosis

As with any medical condition, effective treatment of lipomas begins with diagnosis. At the Lipoma Center Los Angeles, there are several tests we use to help our patients understand their condition. Regardless of the outcome, our intention is to give patients the knowledge necessary to move forward with certainty, whether this means seeking treatment or not.

Testing of lipomas is done using the following methods:

  • A physical exam is often enough to determine whether the growth is a lipoma or something else. If there is any uncertainty, or if your doctor thinks further determination is necessary, he or she will call for a biopsy.
  • A biopsy, or a tissue sample, may be done to determine the exact nature of the growth. Once a tiny sample is removed with the use of a needle, it is examined in a lab.
  • Imaging tests may be used if the growth is larger than the average lipoma, or if it has unusual features or is deeper than the fatty tissue beneath the skin. These tests may include X-rays, CT scan, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or ultrasound, depending on what your doctor thinks is best.

If your condition is determined to be something other than lipoma, further tests may be conducted to reach a diagnosis. Our doctors have extensive diagnostic abilities and are highly skilled in the treatment of most medical conditions, so it is very likely patients with something other than a lipoma can continue their treatment with us.

Lipoma Treatment

While lipomas are not cancerous, patients may choose to have them treated for cosmetic reasons. Regardless of a lipoma's location, it can cause insecurity and lack of confidence due to its abnormal appearance. This certainly applies to lipomas on the neck and face, but patients with lipomas on their abdomen or thighs may also be self-conscious.

Generally, treatment for lipomas falls into three categories:

Steroid Injections

Injecting a lipoma with steroids results in fat atrophy. This can shrink a lipoma, but rarely eliminates an entire lipoma mass. This technique works best on lipomas that are less than 1 inch in diameter. Results usually occur in 3 to 4 weeks and may require multiple injections over intervals of several months. Complications are rare but may be a result of negative response to the medication or the procedure.


Liposuction can be used to remove the fat cells that make up small or large lipomas. Sometimes, liposuction is chosen to remove large lipomas in order to allow for smaller incisions. However, liposuction can rarely remove the entire lipoma.

Surgical Removal

Surgical removal, or excision, is the only way to completely remove a lipoma. Lipoma surgery is usually a simple outpatient procedure and is generally performed with a local anesthetic. Depending on the location of the lipoma, most patients do not experience a significant interruption of their normal activities and enjoy the relief of lipoma removal immediately.

At the Lipoma Center Los Angeles, our surgeons are not only skilled in the effective removal of lipomas—they are also among the leading cosmetic surgeons in Los Angeles. When performing lipoma removal surgery, our doctors are careful to make the smallest possible incisions that will result in the least amount of visible scarring.

Learn More About Lipoma Removal

Multiple and Recurring Lipomas

In many cases, patients only have a single lipoma, making treatment rapid and simple. Some patients, however, develop multiple lipomas, sometimes even exceeding a hundred. This can be very frustrating to a patient. In addition to multiple lipomas, patients may experience lipomas that come back after they have been removed. These recurring lipomas can be equally frustrating.

Multiple lipomas and recurring lipomas are no more dangerous than a single lipoma, though they should be treated by a doctor who has experience in treating them. If you have multiple or recurring lipomas, you can trust our lipoma doctors to provide proper and effective treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions About Lipomas

Do I have a lipoma?

If you have a lump under your skin that feels doughy or soft, moves easily, and is not painful, it is highly possible that the growth is a lipoma. That said, you should consult with a doctor you trust to reach a definitive diagnosis.

I think I have a lipoma. What should I do?

At this point, you should schedule an appointment with a professional at the Lipoma Center of Los Angeles.

Fortunately, lipomas are benign tumors and do not present a major threat to your health. However, they can cause discomfort or restrict movement and may be a source of embarrassment as they do interrupt the normally even surface of the skin.

Our doctors can properly diagnose your lipoma and provide you with the most effective treatment option for you.

Is it necessary to treat a lipoma?

Lipomas are benign growths made of fat cells, and treatment is rarely medically necessary. That said, there are many reasons a patient may choose to have a lipoma treated or removed, such as when the lipoma is:

  • Painful or tender to the touch
  • Inflamed or infected
  • Interfering with movement or function
  • Growing in size

The main reason our patients seek lipoma treatment is that they feel their lipoma is cosmetically displeasing. Because our lipoma doctors are also some of the most prominent cosmetic surgeons in the Los Angeles area, we understand our patients' cosmetic concerns and specialize in lipoma treatment with minimal scarring.

How do I know I have a lipoma and not cancer?

It's understandable that patients feel concerned when they identify a lump or growth on their body. However, there is only a very small chance that a lipoma-like lump is a form of cancer called liposarcoma. Of course, only a doctor can definitively diagnose your lipoma. In the meantime, though, it may give you peace of mind to know that, unlike lipomas, liposarcomas grow quickly, are usually painful, are firm to the touch, and do not move under the skin.4

Are recurring or multiple lipomas dangerous?

Recurring or multiple lipomas are not dangerous. They have the same characteristics of any other lipoma—they are completely benign growths consisting mainly of fat. While they are harmless, they may still require treatment if they are causing discomfort or cosmetic concerns.

Contact Us

If you suspect you have a lipoma or have already been diagnosed with a lipoma, the experts at Lipoma Center Los Angeles can help. Contact usto schedule a consultation with a doctor who specializes in the cosmetic treatment of lipomas.

1 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Lipoma. Available: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/lipoma. Accessed June 5, 2023.
2 Cleveland Clinic. Lipomas. Available: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15008-lipomas. Accessed June 5, 2023.
3 Charifa A, Azmat CE, Badri T. Lipoma Pathology. [Updated 2022 Dec 5]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482343/. Accessed June 5, 2023.
4 Mayo Clinic. Lipoma Diagnosis & Treatment. Available: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lipoma/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20374474. Accessed June 5, 2023.