A lipoma is the most common benign tumor soft tissue tumor. It is composed of fat cells, and is usually a large, soft mass just below the skin. Lipomas can occur anywhere on the body but are most often located on the arms and legs, back, abdomen and neck. The cause of lipomas is unknown but they do tend to be common among family members so there may be genetic factors associated with their occurrence.
While lipomas can occur at any age, there is an increased incidence in 40 – 60 year olds. This could be due to the fact that lipomas grow very slowly so they don’t grow to the point they are noticed until middle age. Individuals with disorders such as adiposis dolorosa, Cowden syndrome and Gardner’s syndrome have an increased probability of developing lipomas.
Lipomas rarely cause any symptoms and are typically ignored unless they grow to a size that they are bothersome or too visible. Occasionally they will press on nearby nerves which can cause pain.
Treatment for a lipoma is surgical excision (removal). Once removed, it is very uncommon for it to recur (return) in the area where it was removed.