Should I Be Worried About Large Lipomas?

In early 2004, I found a small fatty lump about the size of a nickle on my back next to my shoulder blade. After speaking to my physician, she told me that it was nothing to concern myself with, but if I wanted to remove it she would be happy to take care of it or I could just leave it alone. So I did just that. Five years later, I was told that the lump is now the size of a softball, maybe even a little bigger. There's still the fatty feeling, but now it has a quarter-sized spot in the middle of it that is hard and extremely painful to touch. There also seems to be about an inch wide stream from the mass to my spine which is painful to the touch as well. Is this a lipoma, and should I be worried?

Doctor Answers 3

The growth of lipomas

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Lipomas can present anywhere on the body where there is subcutaneous tissue and fat. Usually these masses are small and grow slowly. If you noticed rapid growth in a lipoma, it is best to be evaluated by a surgeon so that they may determine that this is a benign mass.

Lipoma removal and danger signs

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Lipomas are a benign tumor of adipocytes. The diagnosis of a lipoma is only made by pathologic examination, not by clinical history. Any deviation from the normal is a reason for concern and further testing. Lipomas should be slow growing, subcutaneous bumps with no underlying or overlying tissue involvement and absent skin changes.

In this particular case, I would discuss with an experienced surgeon as early as possible.

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Unless you have pathology, you don't know for sure what they are

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Fatty masses are usually, but not always, lipomas. Some of the other things they could be are problematic to say the least. If fatty masses grow, I recommend removal. Even regular lipomas as they enlarge cause dents in the tissue when they are removed. These dents are lesser when they are removed at a smaller size.

When there is any doubt, remove those things.

John P. Di Saia, MD
Orange Plastic Surgeon

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These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.