A lipoma is a benign growth of fatty tissue underneath the skin. They are usually solitary lesions, although multiple lesions have been reported in rare, genetic diseases such as familial multiple lipomatosis and benign symmetric lipomatosis. Lipomas typically start as small lesions on the body, and grow to a certain size, after which they remain stable.


A lipoma usually presents as a soft, flesh-colored bump felt underneath the skin. Lipomas are commonly found on the neck, forearms, and armpits. They are usually painless. Multiple, painful lesions have been reported in a condition known as Dercum’s Disease, which affects peri-menopausal females. Older lesions may become firm and ill-defined when palpated.

Given their benign nature, observation is a reasonable option for patients unwilling to undergo surgical intervention. Several surgical methods have been utilized in the removal of lipoma’s, including incision and curettage, excision, and liposuction. Also suggested is the use of intralesional steroids, which may help shrink the size of the lesion. Surgery is usually curative for most patients, although recurrence has been reported.

Arnold HL, Odom RB, James WD. Andrew’s Diseases of the Skin. 8th edition.

Brian Walther, D.O.
Department of Dermatology
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine/Frankford Hospital
Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia.

Stephen M. Purcell, D.O., F.A.O.C.D.
Professor and Chairman of the Department of Dermatology
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia