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What is a Fatty Lipoma?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A fatty lipoma is a type of tumor or growth that is in almost every case benign. It is made up of fat tissue, and it has a very characteristic feel. Most lipomas feel rubbery, or are easy to move slightly. They also aren’t painful.

There are different types of lipomas, but generally people have subcutaneous types. These are located near the skin’s surface and are usually easy to see and feel. They may occur most on the mid-body, the legs or the arms. Most are small in size and only a few centimeters long, but some lipomas can get very large, and there are records of those reaching over half a foot (15.24 cm) in length.

Lipomas usually don’t get anywhere near this large, and many people don’t ever treat them because risk of them developing into cancer is slim to none. There is a small but active debate on this issue. Of course, they can be removed if a person with one feels it is unsightly. Otherwise doctors may recommend their removal only if they start to increase in size dramatically, if they start to hurt, if the lipoma leaks bad smelling fluid, or if it is any way causing problems in function.

Doctors aren’t always certain why people get these fatty deposits, but they’ve discovered that the majority of people who get one are 40 or older. It is thought that trauma to the area where a lipoma develops might be a causal factor. Many people who get them do seem to have a family history of these tumors. It is often mistakenly assumed that those who develop these tumors do so because they are carrying extra weight; this is not true and plenty of very slim people have problems with these tumors occurring.

There are some diseases that may make people more prone to developing lipomas. These include lipomatosis, which is inherited. In this condition people may have several of these tumors on the body at the same time. If a fatty lipoma exists in the corpus collusum of the brain this is also an inherited disease. Dercum disease, which usually affects postmenopausal women may result in painful fatty tumors all over the body, and may be accompanied by a variety of other symptoms including memory loss, fever, extreme pain, headache and insomnia.

Most people who get a fatty lipoma may simply want to remove it, and there are a few methods that may work. Sometimes liposuction is used to evacuate the fat tissue, but this isn’t always the best method, and the tumor can recur if there are remaining fat cells. Alternately, there are medications that can be injected into the tumor to kill it. Standard treatment is generally to excise the tumor surgically, which is often an outpatient procedure that may only require local anesthetic, though this will depend on size and location of the tumor. Don’t be surprised if doctors want to test the fatty lipoma; they may do so to rule out cancer, particularly if reason for removal was rapid growth, and even if cancer is extremely unlikely.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon1002794 — On Feb 18, 2020

I have fatty lipomas on both of my forearms. Many of them are there and there are some on my upper arms and then some on my thighs, and once in a while they hurt. I think it's because it's growing and that causes it to stretch inside the skin.

Two of my major lipomas on both arms are now intertwined with my veins. I think they should have gotten those two out. It will be hard now to do that. Years ago when I had one, it was my first and it did cause pain and it was removed. The pain was due to it twisting around my arm's vein. I feel that medical insurance should cover removal of these. I have so many now, though, on my forearms, it would be tough. There's one on my thigh next to my knee that is huge. I'm old now going on 69 years old, so I'm not sure.

By anon242877 — On Jan 25, 2012

I have had lipomas on my body since I was 35 and I don't have any kind of problems except one, which is big enough and creates problems when I sleep on my back. Please tell me how to get it treated. Would homeopathy medicines be helpful in treating lipomas? --Banish

By anon181014 — On May 28, 2011

I have now published the results of the last test, and unfortunately, the lipomas have increased and in general are bigger. Also, there were several breaks made, because the balm caused skin irritation and itching, that the test was stopped earlier. All details are online.

The product does not eliminate lipomas! The product is not registered in Thailand and therefore nobody know what are the ingredients or what side effects this product can create. So we have to find another. --Klaus

By jmf — On May 13, 2011

I have seen the medical reports from Dr. G. Marsh.

Of course the family name and address of the patient has been removed but this is hardly 'manipulated'

I understand (from the site) that the study was on several non-superficial lipomas, and that these lipomas were deep under the skin, but they were treated effectively.

By anon175021 — On May 11, 2011

Please answer me the question, Mr. jmf1221, regarding the Thailand balm: If a company must manipulate medical documents, which they received confidentially, to promote as the only "official" support their product, how good do you believe their product is?

All information the company has are emotional statements of people which has/have big lipomas (say 0.5mm large)and after a while of use, they are saying: the lipomas are smaller. How does that work? I have the original and the manipulated medical report with me. The FDA in Thailand should keep an eye on the company!

By anon142696 — On Jan 13, 2011

To Facebook_User_1406646729: I purchased some of this Bariena Lunulina Balm in December 2010 and my 2cm lipoma is now 1cm and shrinking. So it seems to be working. Did you try it?

By Klaus von Adametz — On Jan 13, 2011

If you read that a product with Bariena Lunulina Balm can solve your Lipoma-Tumor problem please do not believe this nonsense!

I wrote to the company in Thailand and asked for any clinical proof or registration about this supplement product; I'm still waiting. This balm is nothing other than what people in Thailand use for ordinary massage for skin. It would be a great thing, but unfortunately, lipoma tumors are quite different.

It is a disorder in our cell system, because these people are producing too much uric acid, which cannot be eliminated and therefore, the normal fat production is also hindered and it starts to build up fat. Please do not believe they can help us, but they can empty our pockets of money.

By jmf — On Dec 30, 2010

There is a herbal balm in Thailand that can be rubbed on the fatty lipomas to make them disappear. The balm is based on 'bariena lunulina.'

By jmbirds — On Jul 06, 2010

dercum syndrome? i take one carnitine daily. it's supposed to help shrink or burn fat, and you can buy it at walmart or online.

Mine are multiple, painful, beady, in my groin and inner thighs, traveling all my fatty areas. I also have a hypothyroid condition and goiters. I'm seeing a dermatologist!

By believer — On Apr 22, 2010

in response to the fatty tumor. December of 2009 i had a fatty tumor that weighed between 40 to 60 pounds removed from my inner thigh. It had begun to cause pains in nine parts of my body, and my blood pressure stayed around 200/110.

i thank God for a great doctor. He removed it with no problem. Now i no longer have pains, my blood pressure has been approximately 115/60 ever since.

Don't give up, keep the faith. i am well on my way to becoming fully healed. thank God for my doctor.

By anon71466 — On Mar 18, 2010

My name is angie and i have a fatty tumor on the left side of my body.

I've been told that it is diffuse and spreading. In fact, it's huge and very noticeable to other people. Recently i've begun to smell it. Because of where it is, it causes me to get breathless and very tired quite a lot.

I've been told by my doctor that it would be technically difficult to remove. I've also suffered from abscesses for the past 20 odd years and been told i have a low white blood cell count that causes them to recur time and again.

Surely this day and age and with our technology, they could give you medicine to prevent these painful things from recurring. Wise words are welcome.

By Drudah25 — On Feb 18, 2010

Hello my name is Andrew and I have fatty tumors all over my body from my upper abdominals to behind my knees. They really stink and I would love to get rid of all of them. This kind of stuff should be researched more! any wise words?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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