Lipomas are slow-growing, non-cancerous tumors that are made up of fat cells. Ranging from the size of a pea to that of a tennis ball, lipomas can occur anywhere in the body where fat cells are present, especially on the arms, legs, and torso. They occur in 1% of the population, particularly in middle-aged adults.
They appear as smooth, soft lumps under the skin and are soft to touch, freely movable, and generally painless, except on occasion when pressure is applied. In some cases, the lipomas can become painful and uncomfortable, especially when there is more blood flow within the lipoma (known as an angiolipoma).
The exact cause of lipomas is unknown, but inflammation from an injury can cause fat cells to multiply and form a lipoma. There may also be a genetic link to lipomas, as multiple family members can develop lipomas in conditions such as familial multiple lipomatosis.
One question that frequently arises is where lipomas can increase the risk for cancer. Currently, there is no evidence that lipomas increase the risk to develop cancer. Lipomas are considered benign non-cancerous growths of fat cells.
- Surgical removal is the most common approach to treatment
- Liposuction may an approach although surgical excision is the most widely used approach.