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What Should I Expect from Lipoma Removal?

By Emma Lloyd
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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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.

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.

Lipoma Removal Cost

Treatment for lipoma removal surgery varies in cost depending upon the location and size of the tumor and can run from just $500 up to $5000. Most insurance companies will cover the cost of lipoma treatment, but always check your policy for specific details and requirements.

Remember that you may also need to cover the cost of additional support staff or anesthesiologists beyond your general practitioner or dermatologist.

Procedure Used

Surgical excision is the most efficient and effective treatment for lipomas, although less invasive options are available. Liposuction of the tumor tends to be less costly, although recurrence of the lipomas is slightly more likely with this procedure.

Some doctors may use steroid injections to shrink smaller lipomas before surgery to minimize scarring, but this procedure is not a long-term solution. Lipomas treated with steroids will usually grow back.

Location on the Body

Lipomas can occur anywhere on the body or face. Masses that develop on the face, neck, hands, feet, underarms or over joints incur higher treatment costs. Surgery to areas of the body containing complex structures will be more expensive.

Size of the Lipoma

Surgical excision of smaller lipomas (5 cm or less) on the body will cost approximately $400 to $500. Lipomas greater than 5 cm cost around $750 to $1000. 

Surgery to the face or more complicated areas may require specialized techniques to minimize scarring, so the costs are slightly higher. Lipomas in these regions that measure 2 cm or less cost around $500, while larger tumors will be $750 to $1000. 

Provider's Specialization

Dermatologists can remove a lipoma in their office, which can engender lower overall costs. Plastic or general surgeons may require a visit to an operating room, especially for larger or more complex lipoma removal surgeries.

How To Remove Lipoma Yourself

Doctors and specialists do not recommend self-treatment for lipomas. At-home surgery can increase the risk of dangerous infections or blood loss, as well as unpleasant scarring and indented skin.

Traditional treatments for other skin conditions, such as cysts or acne, will not work on lipomas. Minimal scientific evidence shows that topical home remedies such as chickweed ointments or apple cider vinegar work to reduce or eradicate lipomas.

Concerns about lipomas under your skin should be addressed with your physician.

Recovery From Lipoma Removal

Surgical excision for most lipomas is a straightforward process. Performed while the patient is awake and under local anesthesia, lipoma removal surgery typically takes approximately 20 to 45 minutes. 

You'll need to keep the stitched area covered and refrain from strenuous activity for 10 to 14 days. You'll visit your doctor's office to have external stitches removed in about a week; internal stitches will dissolve on their own over time.

Office workers can return to work the day after surgery. If your profession involves heavy lifting or strenuous activity, work with your employer to adjust your duties for two to four weeks. Similarly, you should refrain from intense exercise, watersports and stretching during your recovery period.

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.
Discussion Comments
By anon1001740 — On Jun 14, 2019

Morning everybody, I've had a lipoma on my forearm since I was 19. It's stayed the same size and for 5 years or so that was it, then I got another one on my lower left side of my back and two on my abdomen.

I was thinking this is weird. I take care of myself exercise-wise and eat a decent diet. So I decided to have the two on my abdomen removed so they could do a biopsy on them. Everything came back normal, so I thought nothing of it.

Then in my late twenties, they just started sprouting everywhere: thighs, arms, torso. Fortunately, none on my face but it still was very alarming that I went from two to easily 25 in a couple of years! I mean it was so alarming how they were popping up. I remember doing pushups and for whatever reason, glancing at my elbow and literally one materialize in front of my eyes! I saw a couple of doctors and they always say the same: don't worry about them, some people get them some don't. Which is fine and dandy, I suppose, but when you are too self conscious to walk around without a shirt on because of these things, it's almost like, "All right. I guess that's now out."

Has anybody heard of anything other than the minor surgery that works? Because I would rather not be covered in scars. I know this sounds vain and irrational, but it seems like its only getting worse as I get older. Some do cause pain and discomfort when touched. It's just getting to the point of enough is enough already. Is there a tonic or something we can drink to help flush our system and therefore shrink and eventually evaporate these growths?

By anon999978 — On Apr 25, 2018

I had a lipoma on the lower right side of my back. I had it removed on a couple of weeks ago. I had this lipoma for almost 10 years. It grew larger and became extremely uncomfortable to do almost anything, from sitting, standing, to even carrying my purses. Originally I thought I would be out of work a week but that wasn't the case. My procedure was out patient at the hospital, it’s been nine days and I’m not fully recovered. I’m sore and extremely tender. But I expect a full recover in a couple of weeks. At this point, I do not regret getting it removed.

By kcook — On Nov 05, 2016

I had a lipoma on my back for over twenty years and decided to have it removed. I was referred to a general surgery. He gave me two options to have it done in his office or day surgery. I chose day surgery so I would be sleep and not feel anything. I read up on the procedures and expected to be in pain for a least 48 hours. After the surgery, I woke up a little sleeping and was release with no pain. I was given a prescription to take home if I was in pain. I got home and went to bed woke up and took one pain pill before what they gave me at the hospital wears off. However, there was no pain and I was able to sleep on my back and the doctor did not put stitches but some kind of glue they use for smaller Lipoma. (mines was less than 5cm). I feel great and there was no pain at all and the incision is about 1 inch long. I would not hesitate to go back to this surgeon again. it was a wonderful experience

By anon996141 — On Jul 15, 2016

Took the day off work yesterday for a 3"×2" lipoma removal off my left mid back. Procedure was relatively quick, about 45 min. finished up around 9am. About an hour later the pain set in, Holy crap! Took 1800mg ibuprofen. It helped out a little, but any movement made it very painful. I lay down virtually all day. Ended up having to take today off as well. For those that say there is little to no down time, I say crap. I've got an extremely high pain threshold, but this is pretty gnarly. Getting up and bathing has been the most difficult.

If your lipoma is bothering you physically or mentally, I recommend having it removed. I waited six years too long. Of course everyone's experience will vary; this has just been my own.

By anon988797 — On Feb 14, 2015

These articles that say there is no downtime are ridiculous! Yes of course, there is down time! If you are having it removed, chances are it is big, it takes a long time for the skin to heal and depending on where it is for instance the back/ shoulder area. It's hard to sleep or sit without pain, doing normal activities such as hanging out washing can cause immense pain and cause damage,

By anon987439 — On Feb 03, 2015

I had a lipoma removed from my lower back yesterday. It took over an hour to be removed and today I am in so much pain. Does anyone know how long this pain will last? Thanks.

By anon961007 — On Jul 14, 2014

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.

By anon959974 — On Jul 08, 2014

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.

By anon952641 — On May 22, 2014

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

By anon945710 — On Apr 14, 2014

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.

By getwithit — On Apr 10, 2014

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.

By mommom — On Mar 19, 2014

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.

By anon358383 — On Dec 10, 2013

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.

By anon351622 — On Oct 15, 2013

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.

By anon347663 — On Sep 09, 2013

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

By anon346342 — On Aug 27, 2013

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

By anon344251 — On Aug 07, 2013

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

By anon333247 — On May 03, 2013

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?

By anon326891 — On Mar 25, 2013

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

By anon322110 — On Feb 26, 2013

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.

By anon321057 — On Feb 20, 2013

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.

By anon304716 — On Nov 21, 2012

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.

By anon292343 — On Sep 19, 2012

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.

By anon280857 — On Jul 20, 2012

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!

By anon266271 — On May 04, 2012

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.

By anon265010 — On Apr 30, 2012

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 cauterize 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!

By anon258925 — On Apr 03, 2012

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.

By anon253574 — On Mar 09, 2012

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.

By anon218074 — On Sep 27, 2011

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.

By anon178293 — On May 20, 2011

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.

By Jhowell — On Mar 26, 2011

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.

By anon162536 — On Mar 23, 2011

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

By anon160436 — On Mar 15, 2011

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 anesthetics 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.

By anon147556 — On Jan 29, 2011

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.

By anon139668 — On Jan 05, 2011

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

By anon125246 — On Nov 08, 2010

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?)

By anon119593 — On Oct 18, 2010

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

By anon95271 — On Jul 12, 2010

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?

By anon94840 — On Jul 10, 2010

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?

By anon77467 — On Apr 14, 2010

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

By anon71960 — On Mar 21, 2010

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

By anon70915 — On Mar 16, 2010

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

By anon67212 — On Feb 23, 2010

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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