When a person comes across a growth or a lump, there is always cause for concern. But if the team at Deschutes tells you it’s a lipoma, that’s reason to breath easy. These growths are not cancerous and don’t turn into cancer. They are the most common noncancerous soft tissue growth in the human body.

What is a lipoma?

A lipoma is congregation of fat cells in a thin, fibrous capsule that usually develops just below the skin and over an underlying muscle. Usually felt just beneath the skin, lipomas are small, from 1 to 3 centimeters. When pushed on, lipomas have a soft, rubbery consistency and can be moved. Once established, they grow very slowly or remain the same over time.

Where do lipomas form?

Lipomas can occur all over the body. Most often they can be found on the torso (particularly on the back), neck, upper thighs, upper arms, and armpits. At Deschutes, we also occasionally find lipomas within a muscle (intramuscular lipomas).

Why should I bother removing a lipoma?

Most times, lipomas don’t require any attention. But if they become tender, acquire an infection, become inflamed often, interfere with your movement or daily activities, or become enlarged and have a foul-smelling discharge, then we’ll probably recommend removing them.

How do we remove lipomas?

We have different options for removing your lipoma.

Surgical removal — This is done on an outpatient basis, in most cases. We use local anesthesia, remove the entire growth, and close the incision with stitches.

Steroid injections — Steroid injections will usually shrink the lipoma, but they will not eliminate the growth entirely.

Liposuction — If the lipoma is soft enough and isn’t connected to surrounding tissue, we can remove it with liposuction. It doesn’t work well with larger growths, as they tend to recur.

New techniques — To avoid the scarring that accompanies surgical excision, new methods are being tried using injectable compounds such as steroids or phosphatidylcholine that trigger the breakdown of the fats that are forming the lipoma.

Obviously, any growth on your skin merits attention. Call the team at Deschutes and let’s take a look, [primary_phone].