Lipomas are soft, movable, subcutaneous nodules of adipocytes (fat cells); overlying skin is normal.
A patient may have one or many lipomas. They occur more often in women than men, rarely grow to be > 7 to 8 cm in diameter, and appear most commonly on the trunk, nape, and forearms. They are rarely symptomatic, but they may be painful, especially in patients with familial variants presenting with multiple lesions.
A lipoma is usually easily movable within the subcutis. Lipomas are generally soft, but some become firmer. Some superficial dimpling may occur, but frank inflammation is not normal.
A rapidly growing lesion should be biopsied, although lipomas rarely become malignant. Treatment is not usually required, but bothersome lipomas may be removed by excision or liposuction.
Last full review/revision September 2008 by Daniel W. Collison, MD