What is a fatty tumor?


Quick Answer

A fatty tumor, also known as a lipoma, is a noncancerous tumor made up of fat cells that grows just under the skin. Lipomas can take up to several years to grow noticeable, according to DermNet. They can reach up to 10 centimeters and appear wherever fat tissue is present.

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Full Answer

Lipomas occur most commonly on the shoulders, neck, torso and arms, according to DermNet. They are associated with liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer.

The cause of lipomas is unknown, but DermNet postulates that there is a genetic element because a family history of lipomas is often found in patients.

DermNet states that lipomas can be painful when pressure is applied, but not always. They are described as being either dome-shaped or egg-shaped and are easily moved around with the fingers. Lipomas are soft and smooth, sometimes with a rubbery or doughy consistency. In most cases, lipomas are diagnosed by feeling for a soft lump, but some doctors may choose to perform a deep skin biopsy to eliminate all doubt. Lipomas can be removed through surgical methods, by squeezing or through liposuction, but this is generally only advised if they grow and interfere with the movement of the muscles. Most lipomas stop growing on their own.

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