What Is the Cause of Fat Lumps Under the Skin?


Quick Answer

The cause of lipoma, a condition in which the skin has fatty deposits below it, is not clear, but it may involve genetic factors, notes WebMD. A mild injury also sometimes causes growth of the fatty deposits. Lipomas are harmless and do not progress into cancer.

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Full Answer

Lipomas often develop on the neck, torso, upper arms, armpits and upper thighs, and they commonly occur in middle-aged people, according to WebMD. They manifest as tiny lumps beneath the skin with sizes ranging from 1 to 3 centimeters, and they are painless, soft and movable. Lipomas retain a consistent size over a long time or grow bigger very slowly.

Doctors diagnose lipomas by examining the lumps and ordering ultrasounds or other imaging tests, but they sometimes obtain sample tissue to confirm whether the lumps are benign, reports WebMD. In most cases, lipomas do not require medical treatment, as they do not cause pain or serious symptoms.

If a patient experiences painful, infected or bothersome lipomas, the doctor removes the lumps by injecting a local anesthetic surrounding the lipomas, creating a skin incision, removing the tissue growth and stitching the cut, explains WebMD. Surgery in an operating room involving general anesthesia is necessary if the lipomas occur in parts of the body that are hard to reach with small incisions.

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