Lipoma removal is often a routine procedure. At Allina Health, you’ll have an expert care team navigating your care from surgery through recovery.
Schedule a consultation with a surgeon near you.
What is lipoma?
A lipoma is a fatty lump that feels slightly soft but firm and is found between the skin and the muscle beneath it. Lipomas can form anywhere on the body, but they’re most common on the thighs, legs, arms and neck. Lipomas grow slowly and move easily if you apply pressure.
Lipomas are not cancerous or harmful, but there may still be reasons to have one removed. For example, a lipoma may cause pain if it contains blood vessels or puts pressure on a nerve. A large lipoma might interfere with movement or be aesthetically unpleasing.
Some people have more than one lipoma.
There are several different types:
- Conventional lipomas are the most common type and are made up of white fat cells, which are the type that store energy.
- Fibrolipomas contain fat and fibrous tissue.
- Hibernoma lipomas are made up of brown fat cells, which are responsible for producing heat and helping regulate body temperature.
- Spindle cell lipomas contain fat cells that are more long than wide.
- Pleomorphic lipomas are made of fat cells that vary in shape and size.
- Myelolipomas are composed of fat cells and tissue that is capable of producing blood cells.
- Angiolipomas contain fat and blood vessels, a combination that often causes pain.
Why remove a lipoma?
In most cases, a lipoma doesn't require treatment. However, you may want to have a lipoma removed when:
- it’s large
- it causes pain
- it’s aesthetically unpleasing
- it interferes with movement
- it impedes bodily functions
- your health care provider needs to confirm it’s a lipoma instead of a type of tumor
Lipoma removal procedures
Removing a lipoma is a simple procedure. It may be performed in your provider’s office or in an operating room, depending on the size and number of lipomas and whether a lipoma is causing pain. Smaller lipomas can be removed using excision, a technique that minimizes scarring.
Your provider will numb the area with a local anesthetic before removing the lipoma with a scalpel. We’ll test the lipoma for cancer after it has been removed.
Any incisions to remove a lipoma via surgery will create a crease or wrinkle in the skin. We use techniques to minimize bruising and scarring.
Your lipoma surgery team
Your expert team may include:
- A nurse navigator. Your nurse navigator will coordinate your appointments and provide instructions and support to help you recover well after your procedure.
- A pharmacist. Our specialty pharmacy will supply pain medication if your health care provider orders it. The pharmacist will make sure your medicines work well and are safe for you.
What to expect after lipoma removal
Most people can go home the same day after having a lipoma surgically removed. You may stay in the hospital longer if you have an exceptionally large lipoma or many lipomas removed.
Your care team will share how to keep the surgical site clean to minimize infection risk. It’s rare for a lipoma to grow back after removal.
Health insurance coverage and costs
Most lipomas can be removed in your provider’s office, but some must be removed in the hospital. The costs vary depending on the setting of your lipoma surgery and medical coverage.
Contact your health insurance provider about medical coverage and get a price estimate before scheduling lipoma surgery. You’re responsible for any deductible amounts and charges your policy doesn’t cover.
First published: 7/22/2022
Last reviewed: 7/22/2022