Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library


(Fatty Tumor)


A lipoma is a harmless lump of fat. There are several types, usually classified by where they appear. Lipomas may occur anywhere and are commonly found just beneath the skin.

Benign Tumor
benign tumor

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Causes  ^

Lipomas have no known cause. They may be related to a previous injury to the tissue.

Risk Factors  ^

Factors that may increase your chance of a lipoma include:

  • Family history
  • Lipomatosis, a hereditary condition that results in lipomas all over the body
  • Adiposis dolorosa, a rare condition that results in painful lipomas

Symptoms  ^

Lipomas are usually soft, painless, moveable lumps under the skin. They usually don't cause symptoms.

Diagnosis  ^

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The diagnosis is usually based on smoothness, softness, and ease of movement under the skin. Your doctor may do a biopsy to rule out other skin conditions.

Treatment  ^

The lump does not need to be treated. Some may want it removed. Treatment options include:

  • Injections to reduce the size of the lipoma
  • Laser treatment (given under the skin) to remove the lipoma
  • Surgical excision—lipomas are cut out
  • Liposuction—removes excess fat from under the skin

Prevention  ^

There are no current guidelines to prevent lipoma.


American Academy of Dermatology

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians


Canadian Dermatology Association

The Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons


Common benign skin lesions. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated July 24, 2017. Accessed September 1, 2017.

Lipomas. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: Updated June 2016. Accessed September 1, 2017.

Lipoplasty. American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. Available at: Accessed September 1, 2017.

Salam GA. Lipoma excision. Am Fam Physician. 2002;65(5):901-904.

Last reviewed September 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD  Last Updated: 9/2/2015