What is a Lipoma Tumor?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2019
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A lipoma tumor is a benign tumor comprised of fat cells. Also known as fatty tumors, lipomas are very common in the general population. Treatment for a lipoma is usually offered when a patient finds the tumor aesthetically unpleasant or finds that the tumor restricts freedom of movement. Treatment may also be recommended if the tumor is ambiguous in nature and a doctor is concerned that it may be malignant, in which case treatment would allow the doctor to remove it and test it for signs of malignancy.

Lipoma tumors are the most common type of soft tissue tumor. Many appear just under the skin, allowing patients to see and feel the tumor, which presents as a soft, movable lump. Lipomas are usually painless, and they can have a whitish to yellow appearance. One common treatment for this type of tumor is surgical excision, in which the tumor is simply removed by a surgeon, although a lipoma can also be removed with liposuction.

Another treatment option for a lipoma tumor is steroid injections. The steroids will shrink the fat cells, breaking down the tumor. This option is less invasive and less painful, and may be used for an initial treatment attempt to see if it will be possible to resolve the tumor without needing to resort to surgery. Steroid injections can be given as an outpatient procedure in a doctor's office or medical clinic.


A variation on the basic lipoma tumor known as lipomatosis involves the formation of numerous lipomas. Lipomatosis is more common in men, and can appear anywhere on the body, with the trunk being a particularly popular location. More rarely, patients can develop Dercum's disease, also known as adiposis dolorosa, in which numerous very painful lipoma tumors form. Because the lipomas in this case are painful, treatment for this condition is usually more aggressive.

When diagnosed with a lipoma, patients can talk about their options with a doctor. The doctor may recommend taking a wait and see approach, doing nothing about the tumor and monitoring it for any signs of inflammation or rapid growth. Patients who want the tumor removed can discuss their options and the various risks associated with each choice.

If a doctor suspects a growth may be more than a simple lipoma, he or she will usually request a biopsy, in which a sample of the tumor will be taken and examined in the lab. Patients can also opt for a full removal and biopsy of a suspicious growth, which will save time, as a malignant biopsy result will result in a recommendation to remove the tumor.


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Post 9

I have a painful one between my shoulder blades, on the right side. It progressed to my spine. And I have many small ones, going down close to the spine. The one between my shoulder blades is very painful -- an agonizing pain. It makes my shoulders and neck hurt constantly. There's certain ways I have to sleep, to relieve the pressure.

I don't have insurance, and no source of income. I try to find ways to manage it. Sometimes I feel like cutting it out with a knife. Hopefully soon, I will have resources to get insurance soon.

Post 8

I was just diagnosed with a lipoma tumor inside my chest. The doctor said this is a very unusual location and rare. As it's inside the rib cage, it's putting pressure on my lungs and some nerves causing severe pain. I am currently looking for a surgeon who can remove it (may require opening up the rib cage).

Post 7

My daughter has a lipoblastama (tumor)in her left chest. She has had surgery twice, with a four year gap. Now it is recurring again. Can anyone suggest any suitable treatment?

Post 6

I had an atypical lipoma removed from my right thigh and I am female. I am waiting to see if it returns.

Post 5

Two lipoma tumors surgically removed from my shoulder six years ago have grown back bigger than before. This time the surgeon will remove more of the surrounding tissue in an effort to prevent a third regrowth. One of the tumors is painful because my bra strap rubs against it.

Post 4

I had a friend who once had an angio lipoma on his neck. At first they thought it was a neck tumor, because angio lipomas usually show up on the arms, but since it was so painful, they figured out what it actually was.

What was so scary to me is that they don't really know what caused it. Although there is some speculation on angio lipoma causes, no one knows for sure.

Post 3

I had heard that there was a kind of atypical lipoma (lypoma) tumor that occurs mainly in older men, called a pleomorphic lipoma.

Apparently these are also called "giant-cell" lipomas, since they are usually quite large.

They show up mainly on the backs and shoulders of men, and can sometimes even have a flower like appearance.

How weird is that?

Post 2

Weird -- I had never heard of a fatty lipoma. The human body continues to amaze me. I bet though that this is one of the only cases where a treatment primarily used for aesthetics (liposuction) is used for tumor removal!

I wonder how much a lipoma liposuction costs...

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