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Skin Bump or Lump? What to Make of Little Growths Called Lipomas

If you have a painless little skin lump, don’t panic. It’s likely a fatty tumor called a lipoma. One in 1,000 people have a lipoma, and of those, one in five will have more than one. Here are six things you need to know about these mysterious skin bumps.

6 Things to Remember About Lipomas

1.) Lipomas are Just Fat.

Lipomas are squishy knots of fatty tissue that accumulate between your skin and muscle tissue. They usually feel doughy to the touch and might move a bit when nudged. They are commonly found on the neck, shoulders, back, abdomen, arms and thighs.

2.) You Can Relax.

Lipomas are usually harmless because they’re very rarely cancerous. There’s no treatment other than removal.

3.) Blame Your Age.

Or your parents. People tend to get lipomas around 40 to 60 years of age. The exact cause is unknown. Because lipomas can run in families, they are thought to possibly have some genetic basis. They can also occur after physical trauma.

4.) Checking is Good.

Show your doctor any new lump or swelling on your body – especially if it is painful, red or hot, or if the lump is hard and does not move. In rare cases, a lump can turn out to be liposarcoma, a cancer which grows rapidly.

5.) Keep Your Eye On It.

Go back to the doctor if a lipoma grows quickly or becomes painful. Most lipomas are less than 2 inches wide. Pain can occur if they have blood vessels in them or press against nearby nerves.

6.) Remove When Necessary.

Most lipomas are left alone. Some are removed if they grow, become painful, or affect appearance. This is done under local anesthesia with small incision.

To learn more about our general surgery providers and procedures, please visit our Surgical Services.

Joseph Wolpert, MD
Joseph Wolpert, MD

Dr. Joseph Wolpert is a General Surgery provider at CHI Health. To learn more about Dr. Wolpert, please visit his provider profile.

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