Lipomas are small, fatty overgrowths located just under the skin that are usually harmless. They tend to feel doughy or rubbery, and they usually occur on the torso, neck, upper thighs, upper arms, and armpits, but they can appear almost anywhere in the body. Since they can grow and become problematic, they should be evaluated by your dermatologist. They generally pose no problems and are rarely cancerous, but they can occasionally cause pain or become irritated when rubbed by adjacent skin or clothing. In these circumstances, lipomas can easily be removed through a simple surgery. During this outpatient surgery, the lipoma is numbed with local anesthesia and is carefully removed out of the skin through a small incision. Once removed, the wound is stitched, and a small scar results.
The cause of lipomas is unknown, but they tend to run in families, so genetics likely play a role in their development. Lipomas can also occur at any age, but they are most common in older adults. In addition, people with other disorders, including adiposis dolorosa, Cowden syndrome, and Gardner’s syndrome, have an increased chance of developing multiple lipomas.
If you have a lipoma that bothers you, is painful or is growing, and if you would like it removed, Dermatology & Plastic Surgery Specialists is here to help! We encourage you to contact our dermatology office in Palm Desert, California, to request an appointment with Dr. Michael J. Messina.