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What Are the Risks of Lipoma Removal?

Lipoma removal, typically a safe procedure, carries risks like infection, scarring, and recurrence. Rarely, damage to surrounding tissues can occur. Each patient's experience varies, and understanding potential complications is crucial. Are you considering the pros and cons of this procedure? Dive deeper into the intricacies of lipoma removal and learn how to mitigate these risks in our comprehensive guide.
Gregory Hanson
Gregory Hanson

Lipoma removal is a very safe minor surgical procedure that's generally done as outpatient surgery. The key risks associated with this treatment are those associated with any minor surgical procedure, most notably, a small risk of infection and a chance of scarring or other cosmetic issues. The risk of complications increases slightly for lipomas that are located in areas of the body that make surgery difficult. Other techniques for dealing with lipomas are also very safe but may not succeed in completely treating the condition.

Human bodies are prone to develop odd growths and concentrations of cells. Lipomas are among the most common and least dangerous of these. They are almost always made up of benign and harmless fatty cells. They typically grow slowly and pose little serious risk. They can be uncomfortable or embarrassing, however. Fortunately, their removal is generally a very simple process.

Lipoma removal, a minor surgery, has risks normally associated with surgery, most notably infection.
Lipoma removal, a minor surgery, has risks normally associated with surgery, most notably infection.

Usually, a doctor will employ minor surgery for lipoma removal. This involves cleaning the skin above the lipoma, followed by the administration of a local anesthetic. A surgical incision is made, and the lipoma is removed from the surrounding tissue. It is typically a simple process, as lipomas do not normally invade adjacent tissues.

Few risks are associated with such a simple surgical procedure. A few patients develop infections at the site of the incision which might require treatment with antibiotics. A small number of patients experience adverse reactions to the local anesthetic or antiseptics used during the procedure but such allergies are very rare. Stitches may be required to close the incision and some pain is common at or near the site of the incision. Itching and tingling may occur as the wound heals.

Lipoma removal presents cosmetic risk and may result in scarring.
Lipoma removal presents cosmetic risk and may result in scarring.

Cosmetic concerns may arise as a result of lipoma removal. These growths can require an incision of up to two inches in length. Careful preparation of the area and diligent care after surgery can minimize the amount of scarring resulting from such a procedure, however. Some small amount of scar tissue is still apt to form. This may be an issue when the procedure is done on highly visible part of the body.

The doctor should explain any increased risks due to individual health issues before the procedure.
The doctor should explain any increased risks due to individual health issues before the procedure.

The two other procedures commonly used for lipoma removal are steroid treatment and liposuction. The chief drawback of both of these procedures is that they often fail to completely remove the lipoma which will continue to slowly grow after the procedure. Also, some patients react poorly to steroid injections.

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Discussion Comments


I had a large lipoma on my left shoulder that had grown from pea size to half a melon size in 10 years. I had it removed under general anesthetic at day surgery clinic. Post op, at home, the wound site grew and grew into the size if a hard football, I collapsed, an ambulance was called and I was admitted to hospital.

Within 24 hours I had to have another general anesthetic to open the site again, cauterize a small blood vessel that had been left open by mistake on the first op, wash out the blood clots and put in a drain. I had to stay in hospital for six days, and it took five for the blood to drain out. I left the hospital covered in black and bile bruises from my neck down to my buttocks, and side to side.

Two weeks on I still feel quite weak and my back is very sore as the bruising has not healed. I wish I had my lipoma taken out when it was small. My advice would be, if your doctor says it's slow growing, don't worry etc., etc., insist it comes off under local anesthesia when it is small.


I had a very large lipoma removed from my left hip. I had a general anesthetic as my lipoma was under muscle and tissue and had been growing rapidly over a six month period. The first couple of days after surgery, I was unable to get out of bed. Following that, I relied heavily on crutches to get me around. However, I was able to go back to my very active job 10 days after surgery.

I had quite significant swelling and bruising making it difficult to sit and lie in certain positions. This did take some time to subside, even with the help of multiple, strong painkillers!

I have a scar, quite a large scar. However, it is very neat and I much prefer having that than what was in its place before, that's for sure!


I have been to a specialist for a lipoma and was in his office 5 minutes when he told me it was a tumor and not to worry about it...but he's sending me to get an MRI done Tuesday. The lipoma is on my right wrist and it's big and it turns red when my hand is used too much. I suggested removing it but he said it doesn't need to be removed.


I had a lipoma on the bottom of my buttocks. I thought initially it was an ingrown hair that wouldn't go away. The doctors kept telling me it was not a big deal. Eventually it was a big deal. It was about 4 inches long and it made me very self conscious. I needed day surgery and a painful drain to get rid of it and was off work for nearly three weeks. Now I think it's coming back but I won't let the doctors tell me it's no big deal!


I just had my lipoma removed yesterday, and I do feel a slight itch and tingle at times. Does this have to do with some sort of infection, or is this a normal healing process? I have a big waterproof bandage that I am supposed to have on for three days, then I have to take off the second layer of bandage after a week, so I don't know if boils are blisters are forming beneath.

I'm worried that I might have an infection and require further complicated treatment.


My 8mm lipoma was in my hip and the scar is 3.15 inches. This was eight days ago. Now I have sloshing where fluid and air have filled up the space and it is just as large as the lipoma.

The doctor said he wouldn't drain it because it would just come back. When will this go away and how can I hasten its departure?


Don't take them lightly. I had one grow so fast that it was almost hanging out. I opted for removal and it took me two weeks to recover. They had drainage tubes and everything and then my arm was swollen for four weeks.


My mother developed a staph infection after her lipoma removal. We are pretty sure she caught it at the hospital during the operation, since most staph infections occur because of contaminated hospital tools.

She seemed to be doing fine at first. She got to come home on the day of her surgery. The lipomas were totally gone from her abdomen and neck, and she was relieved to be free of them.

Within a few days, she had developed boils and blisters on her incisions. The area appeared red and swollen, and it oozed pus. Sadly, she ended up spending a week in the hospital because of the staph infection.


My aunt developed Madelung’s disease around the age of 40. She got lipomas all around her head, neck, and abdomen. Unfortunately, with this disease, the lipomas don’t have boundaries to enclose them, so instead of having individual masses, the person simply appears to be obese.

This is what her first doctor thought her problem was. She told him she had not been eating fatty foods, and she exercised regularly. He didn’t believe her, so she visited another doctor, who diagnosed her with Madelung’s disease.

He told her that surgery is difficult for people with this condition, because since the lipomas don’t have borders, they grow into the tissue around them. They also have more blood vessels than regular lipomas, so cutting them can cause a lot of bleeding. He recommended liposuction instead.


I developed several lipomas on my abdomen, and I was horrified. I was going to the ocean in just a month with friends, and I wanted to be able to wear a swimsuit. These ugly lumps made me look deformed.

Once my doctor told me they were harmless, I decided to go to a liposuction doctor. He told me that I would be given a local anesthetic before the procedure, which would not leave a scar.

I was very happy to have them removed in time for vacation with no unsightly incisions. I am aware that they may grow back, but I will deal with that when the time comes.


I had several lipomas of various sizes on my neck. I wanted to get rid of them, but I did not want a scar in such a visible spot. I hate wearing turtlenecks, so covering them up was not an option.

My doctor told me that steroid injections would be my best option. I was all for something that would not mar my appearance any further, so he gave me the shots.

The lipomas stayed away for a year, but then they started to grow back. I decided that having a few steroid shots a year wouldn’t kill me, so I got them again.


My dad had several lipomas that appeared on his upper arms. They never concerned him and never got to the point where they were painful or uncomfortable. They have no idea what caused them to appear, but he never had them removed.

He wore long sleeve shirts most of the time, so it wasn't never much of an issue for him. The most important thing to know was that they wouldn't turn in to something more serious.


I had a lipoma that developed on the side of my neck. I was quite concerned when this small bump first appeared and I had no idea what it was.

I got it checked out and was told it was very common. I didn't need to do anything about it unless it became painful or I wanted to have it removed.

It grew very slowly over the course of a few years. It finally got to the point where I was uncomfortable with it and decided to have it removed.

It was a very simple procedure, and unless you are looking for it, can barely see the spot where it was removed.


Having lipoma can be pretty bothersome, but as far as medical conditions go I suppose it could be worse. I developed a small lump on my hand and was pretty horrified.

My mother dragged me to the doctors when the lump started to grow because she was so worried that I had some sort of horrific tumor under my skin. When she panicked, I panicked.

Once I went through a few appointments at the doctor I learned that my lipoma was really not serious, but I scheduled the surgery so that I wouldn't be embarrassed by its appearance. Everything went well and I am glad that spot is gone.


Lipoma can be pretty startling to look at and I think that the aesthetic improvement surgery provides is well worth the risk of such a surgery. My friend actually had a fairly large patch of lipoma removed from her side and it made all the difference when she wore tight tops.

Before my friends surgery she was far to embarrassed to wear really tight shirts because you could clearly see a bump in an awkward place. Rather than face scrutiny she just chose to wear baggy tops so that no one could see what she considered a deformity. Now that my friend has had her lipoma removed she is much happier and more confident.


@rugbygirl - Lipoma removal is also minor, superficial surgery. It will probably feel pretty similar, I would think - no pain but a sort of tugging sensation.

I'm actually in the same boat - my sister is having a lipoma removing soon. I'm sure that the doctor will go over wound care. When I had a C-section, I didn't have to do anything for the first few weeks because the incision was covered with steri-strips. Once those fell off, I was told to apply hydrogen peroxide and Neosporin to prevent infection. I would guess that any sort of surgical incision would have similar aftercare, but I don't really know.

I'm sure it also depends what kind of stitches are used. My C-section was done with dissolvable sutures, but I remember having a mole removed when I was a teenager and having to go back later to have the stitched out. Is that kind of suture still used?


I've had mole removal before, so I know what's involved in that. My mother is now scheduled to have a small lipoma removed next week. Is it similar? What kind of wound care can we expect to be told about?

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    • Lipoma removal, a minor surgery, has risks normally associated with surgery, most notably infection.
      By: Kzenon
      Lipoma removal, a minor surgery, has risks normally associated with surgery, most notably infection.
    • Lipoma removal presents cosmetic risk and may result in scarring.
      By: schankz
      Lipoma removal presents cosmetic risk and may result in scarring.
    • The doctor should explain any increased risks due to individual health issues before the procedure.
      By: Monkey Business
      The doctor should explain any increased risks due to individual health issues before the procedure.
    • The risk of infection from lipoma removal is minimal if proper sanitization protocols are followed.
      By: Tyler Olson
      The risk of infection from lipoma removal is minimal if proper sanitization protocols are followed.
    • Steroid treatment is a commonly-used procedure in lipoma removal.
      By: Csák István
      Steroid treatment is a commonly-used procedure in lipoma removal.