What Should I Expect From Lipoma Removal?

Removal of a lipoma may be performed by a cosmetic surgeon with use of a local anesthetic.
Some lipomas have to be carefully extracted from muscle.
The lipoma will be tested after removal to rule out cancer.
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  • Written By: Emma Lloyd
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 October 2014
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A lipoma is a fatty lump that grows in subcutaneous tissue. While these fat deposits are entirely benign, they can grow large enough to be uncomfortable or impede normal movement. In these cases, lipoma surgery or another treatment can remove the lumps to correct the problem.

For many people, lipoma removal is not necessary, as the lumps grow to a certain size and then simply do not get any larger. Lipomas are benign and cannot become cancerous, and they are not generally dangerous. In some cases, however, lipomas may grow to a very large size, or multiple fatty deposits may grow. These can hamper movement and cause pain or discomfort, making removal a necessity. Sometimes lipomas can become infected, and when this occurs surgical removal is often the best course of treatment.

There are three main lipoma removal treatments, including both surgical and non-surgical options. One option is steroid treatments. Injecting steroids directly into a lipoma kills the fatty tissue, which causes the fatty lump to shrink. Injections are usually administered once per month, and most people who receive this lipoma treatment find it takes several weeks before the lipoma begins to shrink.

Another non-surgical option is liposuction similar to that performed by a cosmetic surgeon. In this case, only a local anesthetic is used, and a needle is inserted into the lipoma to remove the fatty tissue. Recovery from the procedure is usually quick, relatively painless, and free from complications.

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These non-surgical options are not always appropriate for large lipomas, as they cannot entirely remove the lipoma. In addition, a large lipoma may leave behind a pouch of excess skin when the fatty tissue is removed. For large or problematic fatty deposits, lipoma removal surgery can be a viable option.

Simple surgery to remove a small lipoma can be carried out in a doctor’s office under a local anesthetic. This is usually a quick procedure, with a fast recovery time and a low risk of complications. For large fatty tumors or multiple growths, inpatient hospital surgery may be required. In these cases surgical lipoma removal is carried out under general anesthetic.

The risk of complications occurring increases for larger or more complicated lipomas. During surgical removal of a lipoma, a doctor or surgeon must take care to avoid cutting muscle or nerves, to prevent needless damage. This can be difficult in situations where a large lipoma has grown inwards. Complications of surgery may include bruising, wound site infection, injury to blood vessels and muscles, and scarring. In rare cases, lipoma removal may cause damage to nerves in the area.

Note that insurance will not always cover the costs of lipoma removal. If removal of one or more lipomas is carried out for medical reasons as recommended by a doctor, insurance companies will tend to cover the costs with no issues. If a person chooses to have lipomas removed because they are unsightly, however, this counts as cosmetic surgery and is not usually covered by medical insurance.

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Discuss this Article

anon961007
Post 41

I have an appointment tomorrow to have a lipoma removed from the side of my body (bra strap area). I noticed it in February and it has grown since then and because of its location, I have pain.

anon959974
Post 40

I have about 40-50 lipomas on my body. I have had them for four years. I had one on my abs and it was hurting when I used to touch it. I started doing abdominal exercises and now it is not hurting and has decreased by 70 percent in size. I think it is a fatty tissue and we need to melt fat from our bodies and we can get rid of lipomas.

anon952641
Post 39

Thank you for sharing. I am going to have my back neck region lipoma removal tomorrow.

anon945710
Post 38

I had a forehead lipoma removed two weeks ago. The worst part was the anesthesia needles stabbing my head. But fortunately I couldn't feel a thing. Recovery wasn't too bad. A week of swelling, a small black eye, soreness. But it gets better. I'm a little concerned about a strip (bump) of numbness going vertically under the incision. Hopefully it will go away, but overall, I'm glad I did it. It was all worth it.

getwithit
Post 37

I had a mid-size lipoma surgically removed under general anesthetic, from my frontal hairline five days ago. My concern is that my head on the side of the removal is throbbing with pain and I have numbness in the top of my head, which is a different area of the incision. Is this normal? Will I regain sensation shortly?

I'm also worried because I never received an X-ray, CT scan or anything of that nature, unless it was done after I was under the anesthesia or was it not necessary. This was my first surgery so I don't know. Thanks in advance for your advice.

mommom
Post 36

My son, age 25, had three fatty tumors (lipomas) removed last week. Today he had the stitches removed and was told the biopsy came back abnormal on one of the masses and is being further evaluated by an oncologist/pathologist. This tumor was about the size of a golf ball and located on his wrist above the bone. If this is cancer, what type would it be? The results won't be back for another long, long week. Any insight will be appreciated.

anon358383
Post 35

I'm getting a lipoma removed tomorrow and I'm scared because I don't know what kind of anesthesia I will be on. I don't want to be awake.

anon351622
Post 34

To respond to an earlier poster, lipomas do not become liposarcomas. I am sorry that you had an atypical liposarcoma, and that it was not discovered to be so early on. However, for others considering surgery, your lipoma will not mutate into something dangerous, and you should not be concerned about waiting or weighing your options.

anon347663
Post 33

My daughter had a Bilateral excisional axillary lipoma 35 days ago. According to the doctor, she should come back for a check-up after six six weeks (he mentioned that by that time the swelling would no longer be there). However, currently her swelling has increased instead of decreasing on both sides.

Can you advise if this is normal? --Maria

anon346342
Post 32

I have a forehead lipoma. I watched a lipoma removed under local anaesthetic and I'm not sure I could handle it. I got the option of a general anaesthetic and think I'll go for it.

anon344251
Post 31

What is your take on people who can't afford the treatment and are affected by lipomas mostly in third world countries?

anon333247
Post 30

I recently had a lipoma removed from my right lower butt cheek. The surgeon says it will be a month before it goes away. I can't sit for long periods, but the doctor released me to go back to work. What suggestions does anyone have to relieve the pain?

anon326891
Post 29

I have a fatty lipoma at the base of my spine. I an 56 years of age and having pains running down my legs.

I was born with a fatty tissue which my parents had removed when I was about seven or eight years old, because it was a noticeable bump and my friends teased me about it.

In 2007, I had a hysterectomy and suffered nerve damage to my bladder. Since then it has been creating circulation problems.

I've been using a menthol balm which has softened the lipoma and my herbalist said that it is just fatty fluid which needs to be taken out. Could this be done without complications or damage to the surrounding nerves? I would appreciate your opinion. --Bertha

anon322110
Post 28

There are also other possible treatment methods that this article doesn't mention. These include Lipodissolve injections into the lipoma and one might prevent new lipomas from forming by eating certain antineoplastic supplements.

anon321057
Post 27

Nice to know others have these. I have a massive lipoma growing into my left hip joint, and several under my ribcage (right) and on my back (left).

The one on my left hip has been there for twenty odd years and never was painful, but it now impedes movement in my hip joint, forcing me to walk with my foot splayed outwards.

I'm inclined to think that if you can, live with them. The risk of infection or nerve damage from operations frequently leaves you worse than before. A friend of mine even died from a golden staph infection after having surgery on his hand.

The fact is, as you age, your cells will eventually not be able to divide and these mutations happen. I will leave mine alone for the meantime as I've had surgery before and it just makes things worse. Of course, doctors will say they never caused it because they don't want you to sue them. One out of three surgeries go wrong -- 33 percent -- a fact most doctors won't tell you.

anon304716
Post 26

I had a noticeable size lipoma on my forehead. I went to the dermatologist and had it removed. A couple of weeks later, my dermatologist gave me a shot to get rid of the excess scar tissue that was still there.

Here I am now and the stupid thing is back. I'm not sure whether to have my dermatologist take it back out again or go somewhere else.

anon292343
Post 24

I am going to meet a local surgeon tomorrow to talk about getting five lipomas removed. I have one on my knee, one on my forearm, one on my lower right side of my back (this one is on a nerve) and two more on my left side. I'm a little worried about this as i have never been knocked out or put to sleep.

Reading these posts helped ease that a bit.

anon280857
Post 23

I noticed a big lump on my left thigh, in October 2010. I went to the doctor, who said it was a lipoma. I had it removed in April 2011, and it was the size of a baseball.

Two months later, I started having pain and numbness from that area, and it was affecting everything I did: walking, sitting, standing, even sleeping! I Went to the surgeon who did the surgery, and he just said it wasn't anything he did. Well, another surgery later (October 2011) and nine doctors later, I'm still having the pain, one year and three months later! How long will I have this pain? It's really unbearable! Please help me!

anon266271
Post 22

Can anyone recommend a good surgeon to remove a very large lipoma? I'd prefer surgeon to be in Houston TX, but I'm willing to travel elsewhere for a great surgeon.

anon265010
Post 21

Beware! I had a lipoma removed from my forehead - and what was supposed to be complication-free, the plastic surgeon botched up. He did not cauterise the blood vessels in the surrounding area of the lipoma, which resulted in massive swelling of forehead (due to blood) and then the next day, my eyes and face region were all black, swollen and bruised due to blood leaking into soft tissue. It was awful and painful!

I will definitely take issue. This was gross negligence!

anon258925
Post 20

I just had lipoma surgery and in my right buttock. The lipoma was the size of an orange and grew out of control. The biopsy came back as highly atypical and I have just had another surgery, and this time an oncologist operated.

I have been miserable and still cannot sit! Please take them out as soon as you find them, because my biopsy would have been benign had I removed it years earlier.

anon253574
Post 19

I am about to have surgery to remove a large lipoma from my right buttock and it is a fast growing one as I noticed it actually really knew it was there in mid February. I cannot actually pinpoint when I first discovered it but it is now about the size of a grapefruit and is somewhat painful.

I have already had one small lipoma removed from my foot, and had basically no problems except for the fact that a stitch accidentally got left behind but as for the actual removal of the lipoma no problems.

anon218074
Post 17

I had surgery last week to remove a lipoma from my neck shoulder area last week. I was told it was the size of a hockey puck with no x-ray - they got in there and it was the size of a tennis ball and the recovery has been a pain in the butt.

It had to be done, but I am really annoyed the surgeon didn't give me the worst case scenario with recovery and the pre-op. The entire procedure was very routine and there is very little cause for alarm, but a full time working mom needs to know if she is going to be loaded up on morphine for a few days, so she can plan.

anon178293
Post 16

Yesterday I had a fairly large lipoma, a little smaller than a golf ball removed from my back/left shoulder area. It never caused me any pain, only discomfort from it getting in the way of shoulder and neck movement. I was awake for the surgery, sort of, as they gave me twilight with local. However, twice I remember saying ouch as I felt them cutting, but it was only a quick pinch each time and then no feeling after that.

I found out later that the lipoma started to grow fingers onto the shoulder muscle, so don't wait too long if it's a deep lipoma. However, when they wheeled me out of surgery, I could have put my clothes on, hopped in my car and gone to work. Of course they wouldn't let me but I had no pain, wasn't groggy and even felt well rested as I did fade in and out during the surgery.

They gave me a strong narcotic which has vicodin plus something else but I haven't even come close to needing to take it. I'm considering taking a tylenol but I think I'll just drink tonight.

My advice: don't be afraid to do the surgery. My lipoma was pretty deep and was starting to attach onto the muscle and I'm having almost no pain. As far as pain years later or being worried about them growing back, you have to take care of what you need to take care of today and not worry about what might happen. Bright side is you will lose some weight.

Jhowell
Post 15

My boyfriend had a large lipoma removed (in the doctor's office) from the middle of his back about five weeks ago. It was 1 1/2 inches deep. It did not hurt before now, but now he has sporadic moments where sharp pain goes straight through his back that even makes it hard to breathe. What do you think this is? Thank you for your thoughts.

anon162536
Post 14

i just had a lipoma removed on my left shoulder and neck area today. It was big enough that it required five stitches. A year ago i had one removed from my head that required four stitches. The one on my head a dermatologist did and the second a surgeon did, both as an outpatient. i just want to warn you both times i was not asleep but wide awake. They will deaden the area but in both cases i had to feel a decent amount of pain then they deadened as needed.

i guess what I'm trying to say is maybe once the lipoma is a certain size maybe you might consider being put to sleep. Besides seeing the actual surgery was pretty uncomfortable for me both times. I just wanted to share my recent encounters with everyone. --short dog 87

anon160436
Post 13

I had a large forehead lipoma removed today at medway maritime hospital. the operation in itself only took 30 minutes to complete, but I waited in the waiting room for 8 miserable hours. Three or four large local anaesthetics will be jabbed into and behind the lipoma. that is awful. and I'm a resilient guy. the rest is just strange tugging and pulling sensations and burning of the skin smell to seal off blood vessels to cease bleeding will be necessary.

it is swollen and is bigger than it was originally, but it's likely to be leftover saline, bruising, mild inflammation. all in all ok.

anon147556
Post 12

i had a large lipoma removed from my thigh seven years ago, no problems. now about to go and have eight more removed in two weeks' time. they don't come back in the same place but if you are going to get them, you most probably will get more than one.

anon139668
Post 10

i had two removed from my thigh yesterday no problems just sore today. got to have some more removed in the near future.

anon125246
Post 8

I have a lipoma on my lower left back. It's been there for eight years and no pain, slowly growing. An ultrasound last week determined it was a benign lipoma, just swelling of fat.

Today it is red, has doubled in size, and it's painful to lean against a chair. i don't know if it's infected. I can't see it but it looks like there is a blue pin sized hole (it's not open, but was it an opening from a bite?)

anon119593
Post 7

I have a lipoma under the tongue. if removed will it return?

anon95271
Post 6

I had a lipoma removed from my back which was pinching a nerve. It has now regrown two years later and is causing discomfort. Are they likely to regrow or should the surgeon have removed it completely?

anon94840
Post 5

I have a large lipoma on my inside butt cheek that was the same size for 12 years but has grown and become sore to the touch. It has just started doing this in the last month. anyone know why they do this?

anon77467
Post 4

I have a large lipoma on my forehead. how dangerous is the surgery to have it removed?

anon71960
Post 3

If i remove a lipoma, will it reappear in more numbers?

anon70915
Post 2

I have a large lipmoa under my chin extending down my neck. I am looking for the best surgeon in Seattle Wa. I was told that I would have a large scar

anon67212
Post 1

i want to know the best doctor's name and full details who treat lipoma removal surgery or non surgical treatment.

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