Lipoma Removal

Latest update: April 19, 2024
Medically reviewed by: Jordan Frey MD

Details

Lipomas are non-cancerous fatty growth that can appear anywhere on the body. They are most commonly found on the head, neck, shoulders, and back and feel like round lumps. While most lipomas do not need treatment and can be left alone, some may start to feel painful or increase in size over time. Patients can opt for a removal procedure for aesthetic reasons or ease discomfort.

There are surgical and non-surgical options to remove lipomas. Non-surgical options for lipoma removal include steroid injections, fat-dissolving injections, and liposuction. Steroids injected into the lipoma can drastically shrink it in size. This non-invasive method works best for lipomas that measure less than 1 inch in diameter. Depending on results seen 3-4 weeks after the procedure, more sessions may be necessary. Complications include skin atrophy.

Fat-dissolving injections (Kybella, Aqualyx) have been used off-label to shrink lipomas. They are not the first choice when treating lipomas. Multiple sessions may be needed.

Liposuction can remove both small and large lipomas. Doctors create an incision on the area under local anesthesia and insert a cannula to suck out the mass during this process. The downside of this procedure is that it is difficult to remove the entire lipoma through liposuction. There is also a high chance of the lipoma recurring.  

Surgical removal will require excising the entire mass. Enucleation is a surgical method recommended for smaller lipoma masses. Under local anesthetic, the doctor will create a 3-4mm incision over the area and remove the affected tissue with a curette, a tool used to scrape tissue. As the incision is tiny, this procedure will not require any stitches. They will cover the site only with surgical dressings. The excision method can permanently remove bigger lipomas. Surgeons make an incision over the affected lump, approximately the diameter of the lipoma, and remove the tissue, including the capsule, to prevent a recurrence. The area is closed with sutures. Depending on the healing and recovery of the site, the stitches may be removed 7-21 days later. 
Anesthesia
local/general
Operation Time
Inpatient Period
n/a
Number of Appointments
Recovery Period
1 week
Invasiveness
yes

Treatment of Lipomas and Soft Tissue Masses

This video for Howard County General Hospital covers the treatment and removal of soft tissue masses. Dr. Hadley Wesson, a surgeon at the hospital, explains what can be defined as a soft tissue mass. She discusses what happens after you bring the matter to your doctor. She explains who can get soft tissue masses. She tells us when and why is surgery necessary.