A lipoma is a congregation of fat cells in a thin, fibrous capsule that usually develops just below the skin and over the underlying muscle. Lipomas do not typically require treatment because they are not cancerous growths, nor can they develop into cancer.

Why should lipomas be removed?

Removal of lipomas may be recommended if they become tender or painful, acquire infection, become inflamed repeatedly, interfere with the patient’s movement or function, become enlarged, or have a foul-smelling discharge.

What method is used in the removal of lipomas?

Surgical removal is used for most lipomas and can be done on an outpatient basis. The doctor will numb the area around the lipoma by injecting a local anesthetic. An incision will be made on the skin so that the doctor could physically remove the lipoma. After the entire growth has been removed, the incision will be closed with stitches. If the lipoma is in an area of the body that is inaccessible and simple incision will not be able to remove it, the removal may be done in an operating room under general anesthesia.

Steroid injections can be used to effectively shrink the lipoma, but this method is not able to eliminate the growth entirely.

Liposuction may be used for the removal of lipomas if they are soft enough and have a little to no connective tissue component. This technique makes use of a needle and a large syringe to aspirate the fatty lump. There is relatively less scarring with this method, but it has been found to be ineffective for larger growths, which leads to recurrence.

New techniques for the removal of lipomas are being developed at the moment, and are said to produce no scarring on the treated area. These techniques involve the use of injectable compounds such as steroids or phosphatidylcholine that will trigger lipolysis.