Subcutaneous lipoma

The lipoma is a benign tumor of fat cells that gradually accumulate in a delicate connective tissue capsule, usually located just below the skin.

A lipoma is not a carcinoma and does not develop into a malignant tumor.
Lipomas are often found on:

  • Neck
  • Neck
  • Thigh
  • arm (upper arm or elbow),
  • chest (for example, between the ribs),
  • Armpit.

They can form anywhere on the body, including the face.
One or two lipomas may be present at the same time.
Lipomas are the most common benign soft tissue tumors.

There is no scientific evidence that a lipoma has an increased risk of degenerating into later melanoma.
Nevertheless, lipomas can sometimes change into a malignant tumor called liposarcoma.
These are usually:

  • large (5 cm and more in diameter),
  • are growing rapidly.

Anyone who is worried about a lipoma increasing in size should consult a doctor.

A lipoma can also develop in the adipose tissue of internal organs, for example:

  • Breast
  • Kidney
  • Digestive system and intestines.

Sometimes magnetic resonance imaging or other examinations lead to the accidental discovery of a lipoma inside the body.

As a rule, researchers give the lipomas their name:

  • according to the position of their occurrence,
  • according to the tissue of which they are composed.

Benign tumors contain adipose tissue and possibly:

  • collagen and other fibrous tissues,
  • vascular structures (angiolipoma or angiomyolipoma),
  • Muscle tissue.

Gewöhnlich sind sie erblich, sie können sich aber auch entwickeln infolge von:

As a rule, people who have such a soft tissue tumor do not need therapy unless the tumor mass presses on a nerve and is thus uncomfortable.
In rare cases, a lipoma of the duodenum can cause bleeding in the digestive system.


  • Angiolipomas usually develop as nodular structures on the arms or on the chest of adolescents.
  • This type of tumor bears this name because, in addition to fat or obese tissue, the tumor mass contains complex vascular structures.
  • People who have these cell clusters usually complain of discomfort.

Subcutaneous lipoma

  • Usually, the tumor mass is painless and easy to move under the skin. This type of lipoma is the most common and contains fatty tissue enclosed by a connective tissue capsule.
  • Subcutaneous lipomas can have a different size from a pea to a few centimeters in diameter (giant lipoma).

Pleomorphic lipoma The pleomorphic lipoma
usually appears:

  • in the neck,
  • on the upper back (dorsal or lumbar),
  • on the shoulder.

In contrast to the typical nodal structure, the content of this mass varies in fat content.
Multinuclear giant cells also occur in various forms in adipose tissue.

Spindle cell lipoma

  • Spindle cell lipoma is a rare variant of a benign, atypical adipose tissue tumor.
  • Spindle cell lipoma is often confused with liposarcoma (malignant tumor).
    These growths are often much rougher to feel than a typical lipoma.
    The spindle cell lipoma is gray, white and yellowish in color. In addition to adipose tissue, the tumor contains fibrous bundles of spindle cells.
  • Usually, these tumor masses are observed in men between 45 and 70 years of age.


  • Fibrolipoma is a combination of adipose and connective tissue.
  • It can develop anywhere on the body, but is mostly found around the mouth or on the lips, as well as anywhere in the intestinal tract.
  • Often these masses can:
    • exert pressure on a nerve,
    • cause lymphedema.

Myelolipoma The rarest form is myelolipoma

. These tumors include:

  • Adipose tissue
  • white and red blood cells, as well as platelets, similar to the bone marrow.

They develop exclusively inside or outside the adrenal glands.

  • is often found in men between 40-60 years of age,
  • usually shows no symptoms,
  • is often discovered by chance.

Patients may experience symptoms such as:

Lipoma racemosum

The lipoma racemosum is a benign tumor mass that is not surrounded by a demarcating capsule. Therefore, when removing this lipoma, the surgeon must check whether all the affected fatty tissue has been removed.


The rare cancer of adipose tissue is called liposarcoma. It almost never forms under the skin.
Liposarcoma is a deep-seated tumor and usually develops:

  • on the leg (on the external quadriceps),
  • inguinal
  • on the upper and forearm,
  • in the peritoneum.

If the lipoma grows strongly or becomes painful, the doctor should be consulted.
A skin biopsy may be necessary to rule out liposarcoma.

Liposarcoma types

  1. In the elderly, especially men, most liposarcomas of the skin (subcutaneous tissue) are atypical lipomatoses (well differentiated). This is an intermediate tumoral form between lipomas (benign) and liposarcomas (malignant).
  2. Myxoid liposarcoma rarely occurs in the skin and subcutaneous tissue (it occurs in soft, deeper tissue layers).
  3. In exceptional cases, pleomorphic liposarcoma occurs as the primary tumor of the skin.


Classification of lipomas based on their localization

The lipoma types due to the area in which they occur are:

  • intramural lipoma (affects the colon)
  • intestinal lipoma
  • cardiac lipoma (occurs in areas of the heart, can become dangerous if heart valves are affected)
  • visceral lipoma (can occur on organs or in the intestines of the body, for example, on the kidneys)
  • meningeal lipoma
  • gastral lipoma (in the submucosa of the gastric mucosa)
  • palmar lipoma (on the palm)
  • Lipoma on the filum terminale (forms inside a ligament that runs from the end of the spinal cord to the coccyx)
  • sacral lipoma (in the area of the sacrum)
  • subcutaneous superficial lipoma

Intramuscular lipoma An intramuscular lipoma
is a benign tumor consisting of adipose tissue cells that forms inside muscle tissue.
You can find it;

  • Head
  • Neck
  • Back
  • Legs.

It consists of an adipose tissue tumor that forms within muscle fibers. An intermuscular lipoma develops between muscle groups. The type of tumor is identical in both cases.

The tumor presents itself as a protrusion of the skin.
Most of these intramuscular fat masses are very small, measuring less than 1 or 2 centimeters in diameter.
Due to its position, an intramuscular lipoma is much more annoying than other types of lipoma.

Other areas
of the body Rarely, a lipoma can form inside the body.
However, the person who has this type of tumor is not aware of it because you don’t see it and it rarely causes problems.

How to distinguish a lipoma from other skin growths

There are many types of skin tumors, but a lipoma usually has certain characteristics.
If you suspect a lipoma, you will usually find the following characteristics:

  1. soft palpation, easy to move between the fingers,
  2. immediately under the skin,
  3. pale or skin colored.

The lipoma is painful only when it grows under the skin on a nerve.
Typically, lipomas are soft and you can feel their displacement under the skin when pressed on them.
cyst can be squeezed, but it does not shift sideways, moreover, it has a liquid content.

Who has a lipoma and how common is it?

  • Anyone can develop a lipoma at any age.
  • Lipomas are common, about 1 person in 1,000 develops one or more in a lifetime.
  • Some people have a hereditary predisposition to develop lipomas and can develop various fatty tissue masses in the body.
    There are people who have up to 20 lipomas (lipomatosis).
  • More common, however, is that only one or two such tumors occur.
  • Lipomas can occur in normal-weight or overweight people, so diet has no influence.

Causes of subcutaneous lipoma

The exact cause of the lipoma is unknown.
Lipomas are often hereditary, so genetic factors play a role in their development.

Risk factors Various factors
can increase the risk of developing a lipoma. Among them are:
1. Age between 40 and 60 years, although lipomas can develop at any age. Lipomas rarely occur in children.
2. Various diseases. People with other disorders have an increased risk of developing multiple lipomas, including:

  • a rare hereditary disease, crab lipomatosis, in which groups of fat cells form under the skin and form painful fat nodules in different areas of the body; at:
    • Poor
    • Trunk
    • Thighs.
  • Obesity dolorosa (Dercum’s disease),
  • Madelung’s disease (multiple symmetric lipomatosis),
  • Cowden syndrome,
  • Gardener syndrome.

3. Some scientists believe that there is a post-traumatic cause.

Symptoms of lipoma

  • On their own, lipomas are not a serious condition and for the most part, they do not cause symptoms or problems.
  • They grow very slowly.
  • Sometimes a subcutaneous lipoma can be very uncomfortable because it grows up to a few centimeters.
  • Rarely, a lipoma can press on other structures and thereby lead to health problems.
    For example, it can cause pain when it presses on a nerve.
  • In rare cases, a lipoma can form in the intestinal wall and cause symptoms such as:

Therapy of lipoma

After discovering an ulcer that grows slowly on the skin, one should consider whether there are other symptoms that one suffers from.
A list of all drugs used helps to identify and rule out other causes that could have led to the formation of the tumor mass.

Because lipomas are benign tumors, they may not require therapy, depending on their symptoms.
If no treatment is necessary, regular monitoring by the doctor is important for any changes.
A lipoma can be confused with a cyst.

Cortisone infiltrations The most important treatments for lipoma are cortisone infiltrations
or injection of phosphatidylcholine.
This remedy causes a reduction in lipoma, but can not eliminate all the amount of fat.
The injections cause lipolysis (fat loss).

Liposuction is another effective procedure.
In this procedure, the fat mass is removed with a cannula and a large syringe.
This is a possibility if the lipoma is soft and has a small portion of connective tissue.
Recurrence cannot be avoided, especially if it is a large lipoma.

Excision (removal)
The therapy, which serves the complete removal of a lipoma, is a simple surgical operation.
Procedure. In such an intervention, a local anesthetic is injected around the tumor to numb the area.
Large or deep-seated lipomas are removed under pathway anesthesia or general anesthesia.
After anesthesia, the doctor leads:

  • a skin incision by
  • and removes the tumor.

Recovery. After the procedure, you are usually able to go home.
A small skin suture is made, the stitches of which the doctor removes after two weeks.
How long it takes you to fully resume your daily activities depends on:

  • Size
  • Location of the lipoma.

Recurrences. Lipomas can almost always be removed by simple excisions. It is rare for a lipoma to develop again, but if it does, a new excision is also the best treatment method in this case.

When should a lipoma be operated?

As a rule, the doctor advises surgical removal if:

  • the patient feels constant pain or numbness in the area;
  • an infection or inflammation develops in the area;
  • the lipomas or lipomas are an obstacle in the daily condition if they cause discomfort or continuously increase in size.

As a rule, the operation is performed on an outpatient basis.
General anesthesia is not required unless internal organs are affected.
Local anesthesia is sufficient to remove a superficial lipoma.

Misconceptions about lipomas

The American Cancer Society classifies lipomas as benign tumors.
The tumors can be cancerous, but lipomas are not malignant. This means that a spread of lipomas is not possible.
The disease does not spread to muscles or other surrounding tissues.
The lipoma is not fatal.

A lipoma cannot be reduced with natural remedies.
Ice and heat packs can help with other types of skin swelling, but they are of no use with lipomas because they are based on fat cells.
Ultrasound does not help to eliminate lipomas.

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