Lipomas are benign (not cancerous), slow-growing tumors that come from fat cells. They are usually round, moveable, flattened lumps under the skin. They feel soft and doughy or rubbery. Lipomas usually grow in the neck, shoulders, back or arms. Lipomas are the most common noncancerous tumor in adults. They can occur at any age, but they often appear when you're between 40 and 60 years of age. Sometimes they run in families. Sometimes they are caused by an injury. Most lipomas do not hurt unless they are squeezed or bruised.
Usually a lipoma has been growing for years before it is noticeable. It is fairly common to have more than one lipoma. If you notice a lump or swelling anywhere on your body, you should have it checked by your family doctor. In some cases, a lump can be a sign of a more serious problem.
Tests are usually not needed to diagnose a lipoma. Your doctor can usually diagnose it just by looking at it and feeling the firmness of the lump.
Because lipomas are almost always benign, they usually do not need treatment. If they are painful or are growing quickly, you may want to have treatment. Treatment options include steroid shots, liposuction or surgery to remove the lipoma. Your doctor can help you decide what is right for you.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff