(See also Overview of Skin Growths Overview of Skin Growths Cells of the skin and underlying tissue may accumulate and cause growths. Growths may be raised or flat and range in color from dark brown or black to skin-colored to red. They may be present... read more .)
Lipomas are very common. They appear as smooth, soft bumps under the skin. Lipomas range in firmness, and some feel rather hard. The skin over the lipoma has a normal appearance. Lipomas rarely grow more than 3 inches (about 7.5 centimeters) across. They can develop anywhere on the body but are particularly common on the forearms, torso, and neck. Lipomas are more common among women. Some people have only one, but other people develop many lipomas. Multiple lipomas may run in families and be part of a genetic condition (for example, familiar multiple lipomatosis). Lipomas rarely cause problems, although they may occasionally be tender or painful.
Usually, a doctor can easily recognize lipomas, and no tests are required for diagnosis. Lipomas are not a form of cancer and they rarely become cancerous. If a lipoma begins to change in any way, a doctor may do a biopsy Biopsy Doctors can identify many skin disorders simply by looking at the skin. A full skin examination includes examination of the scalp, nails, and mucous membranes. Sometimes the doctor uses a hand-held... read more (removal of a tissue sample for examination under a microscope).
Treatment of lipomas usually is not required, but bothersome lipomas may be removed by surgery or by liposuction (removal of fat with a suction device).