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A lipoma is a very common, benign fatty tumor that usually grows in the fat layer just beneath the skin and presents as a fairly discrete lump. It can also be situated deeper within the tissues. Depending on its size and location within the tissues, it can cause a variable amount of bulging of the overlying skin.

Multiple lipomas of left arm and forearm

Multiple lipomas of left arm and forearm

Lipomas can grow virtually anywhere in the body where there are fat cells – the arms, legs, abdomen, chest, back, neck and even the face. They can range in size from less than ½ inch to 5 inches or more. Much of the time they are asymptomatic but they can be associated with discomfort if they are either somewhat large or in areas where they are subjected to frequent compression, pressure or trauma.

Most people just have one lipoma though there are many others who may have 10 to 30 or more. Some individuals even continue to develop new ones over time. There can be a familial predisposition.

Treatment consists of direct surgical excision with the length of the incision ideally kept somewhat proportionate to the size of the lipoma. Thus, a small lipoma can be removed with a relatively short incision. Though liposuction has been described as another method of their removal in order to keep the incision length very short, this approach is rarely if ever used and for several reasons.

The type of anesthesia used for surgery would depend on several factors including the number of lipomas, their size, how deeply they are situated, location(s) as well as patient preference. This could include local anesthesia, sedation or even general anesthesia. Which approach is used would be determined at the time of the consultation.

Lipoma from forehead

Lipoma from neck

Lipoma from back

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