Lipomas are localized collections of fat cells below the surface of the skin that feel rubbery to touch. Sometimes they can be confused with cysts. Lipomas are usually harmless growths, but if they are growing quickly or are painful, they can be removed.
It is unknown exactly what causes lipomas to grow, but some patients inherit a tendency to develop multiple lipomas throughout the body.
Lipomas are bumps below the surface of the skin that can be felt rather than seen. Occasionally, they are tender when palpated but are typically not bothersome
Typically, a lipoma can be diagnosed on physical exam with palpation of the lesion. However, a biopsy (or sample) of the lesion may need to be sent to a pathologist for microscopic evaluation to confirm the diagnosis if the presentation is not classic, or if it is painful or growing quickly. Rarely, if the growth is large and there is concern for involvement of underlying structures, imaging may be needed.
The majority of lipomas do not need treatment as they are benign lesions. However, if they are growing, painful, or bothersome to a patient, there are treatment options, including surgical excision or steroid injections. Surgical excision completely removes the lesion decreasing the chance of recurrence. Both of these treatments can be performed in a dermatologist’s office.
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