Do I Have to Get Lipomas Surgically Removed?

I have three lipomas and I am debating what to do about them.  Do I have to have them removed?  Is there any danger if I decide not to have the lipoma removal procedure?  Are there any alternatives to surgery that will get rid of my lipomas? Thanks

Doctor Answers 13

Lipomas are generally benign (non-cancerous) lesions....

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Lipomas are generally benign (non-cancerous) lesions. They will generally continue to grow over time and only need to be removed if they become bothersome, infected, or the patient desires removal. Removal generally required a small incision over the lipoma and removal of the lesion. In some cases, a very small incision is made over the lipoma and it can be expressed out, much like a pimple.

Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon

Do I have to get lipomas surgically removed?

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Hello!  Lipomas are benign fatty tumors.  They are best served being surgically excised, but do not necessarily need to be removed if that is what they truly are.  This will significantly reduce the possibility that it will return.  Depending on the size and location, they may be removed under simple local anesthesia and possibly in the office.  I would discuss the options with a plastic surgeon who can examine you and discuss the options and procedure.  Almost routinely they are outpatient procedures.  There are other things that this soft tissue mass may be and it is wisest to have it examined prior to consideration for any surgical excision.

Liposuction, although an option, is not a great modality due to the recurrence rate as well as not knowing what this mass actually is.  Steroids is not an honored treatment for lipomas.  Cost will vary upon the examination of the mass, location and complexity of the mass, and will increase if done at a surgery center and use of anesthesia.  Thank you for your question.  Hope that his helps!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Lipomas are ALMOST always benign

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Lipomas are fairly easy to diagnose on clinical exam. They are also easy to remove surgically in most instances with a scar over the lipoma about as long as the diameter of the lesion. Some physicians alternatively advocate the use of liposuction to treat these lesions and minimize the scar but increase the risk of recurrence or miss the opportunity to diagnose a cancer. This is an example of letting cosmesis get in the way of good medicine.

Please know that while almost all lipomas are benign non-cancerous growths, there are people with a kind of cancer called a liposarcoma that can mimic a lipoma. If the fatty lesion is properly removed surgically, it can be evaluated by a pathologist under the microscope and be sure it is not a cancer. If its cellular architecture is destroyed by liposuction, it cannot be as reliably evaluated to not be malignant.

That is why I always remove lipomas rather than gambling with your health over a small scar and running the risk of missing the rare but possible diagnosis of a potentially cancerous lesion.

Since lipomas are noncancerous, they do not require any...

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Since lipomas are noncancerous, they do not require any treatment.

However, if a lipoma becomes bothersome, infected, or continues to grow, you may chose to have it removed. Your doctor would simply excise the lipoma by making an incision to the area.

Sam Speron, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon

Up to you

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I counsel patients with small lipomas that it is perfectly reasonable to just watch them over time.  If they are small right now and don't bother you now, they may stay small and never bother you. Unfortunately, you don't know if they will get bigger until they get bigger.  Finally, the smaller the lipoma is, the smaller the scar will be from removal.  So, its a pretty good example of a Catch-22.

Arlo J. Miller, MD, PhD
Issaquah Dermatologic Surgeon

Lipoma removal with ThermiRF

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Lipoma removal is usually performed with surgical removal. Surgical removal of lipoma may create unsightly scar for the patient, especially on ethnic skin. Some physicians are now using ThermiRF, a Radiofrequency (RF) energy device to heat lipoma. These physicians report lipoma removal or reduction using ThermiRF. ThermiRF lipoma removal treatment is considered “off label”. This may be an alternative. Consult with your doctor to see if ThermiRF can help you.

Stanley Okoro, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 168 reviews

What to do about lipomas

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Hi Anon,

You don't have to have lipomas removed. They're not cancerous or dangerous. If the lipomas bother you it is usually relatively simple to have them surgically removed. There are no alternatives to surgery to remove the lipomas.

If there is any doubt about the diagnosis or if the lipomas become painful or rapidly increases in size please seek medical advice to confirm that your lumps are truly lipomas.

Good luck with your decision!

Jill Tomlinson, MBBS, FRACS
Melbourne Plastic Surgeon

Lipoma removal options

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Lipomas are benign growths that can be left alone as they do not have cancer potential. They may stay the same size or sometimes grow a little. They are typically cut out by a dermatologist or plastic surgeon, although liposuction can also work on larger lipomas. It is important to have the diagnosis verified by your physician to make sure it is nothing more serious than a lipoma.

Benjamin Barankin, MD, FRCPC
Toronto Dermatologic Surgeon

All concerning lumps should be evaluated by your surgeon

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Lipomas are benign fatty tumors and usually to not require removal. Many people have them removed for aesthetic reasons. Others have them removed because of fear that the lipoma may in fact be something more serious. There are other tumors that can masquerade as lipomas, so if you are concerned you should have your surgeon evaluate it under a direct exam.

Kevin Brenner, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

No need to remove lipomas

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You don't need to remove lipomas unless they are a cosmetic problem. Since they do tend to grow a little over time what I tell patients is the sooner you get the out the smaller the scar will be. If they are small they can be done in the office under local anesthesia.

Patricia Farris, MD
Metairie Dermatologic Surgeon

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.