Lipomas are harmless lumps under the skin that can be mistaken for cancer. Here's what you need to know.
What is a lipoma?
A lipoma is a collection of fat cells that have formed a lump within the skin. You can get them at any age (although they’re most common in middle age) and can occur anywhere on the body. Lipoma lumps are harmless, but can be irritating if they form on a part of the body that experiences friction, like on a belt line or collar neck.
Symptoms of lipoma
- Soft fatty lumps under the skin
- Often feels slightly ‘doughy’
- Moves slightly within the skin
- Usually painless
- Skin overlying the lump is normal
Lipomas do not normally require treatment. They will not usually resolve on their own, but will also cause no harm to you in the future and can be safely left alone.
If a lipoma is to be removed, this requires surgical excision.
Normally, a lipoma is not eligible for removal within the NHS. There are certain exceptions to this, such as:
- If a lipoma is very large
- If a lipoma is causing pain
- If a facial lipoma is obstructing vision, sense of smell or ability to eat
- If a lipoma if causing significant discomfort from friction
- If a lipoma is growing rapidly
- If a lipoma is located very deeply within the skin
Lipomas of any size can be removed privately. A GP can give you advice on where to seek treatment.
When to see a GP
- If you have a lipoma that’s causing pain, growing rapidly, becomes red and hot, or is otherwise changing
- If you develop a new lump and are not sure whether it’s a lipoma or not, it’s best to see a GP to get a diagnosis
- Last updated:
- Reviewed by:
- Dr Rhianna McClymont, Lead GP at Livi