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What is a Lipoma?

Lipomas are benign and generally harmless tumours of fat that protrude from the skin and occur anywhere in the body where there are fat deposits.

Typically, they are soft, rubbery, moveable lumps protruding from the skin with little or no pain. They grow slowly and range in size from that of a pea up to 10cm or so.

Most lipomas are visible swellings under the skin and only cause cosmetic issues. In rare instances, deeper lipomas, particularly those growing within confined spaces, may press against sensitive organs, nerves or the spinal cord and cause particular pain and discomfort.

Lipomas are typically harmless and nothing to worry about, and can be excised via very straightforward surgery under local anaesthetic.

Aesthetics Awards Highly Commended 2021 My Face My Body Awards Winner 2020 My Face My Body Awards Winner 2019 Highly Commended 2018

Consultants

We have invited a selection of the country's very best consultants to join us at the Cadogan Clinic so that you can be sure that whatever the nature of your treatment, you will be seeing one of the top practitioners in the country.

Dr Kristina Semkova

Specialist Dermatologist

Dr Kristina Semkova is a fully qualified Specialist Dermatologist, registered with the General Medical Council...

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Dr. Amélie Seghers

Consultant Dermatologist / 7068685

Dr Amélie Seghers is a consultant dermatologist who sees adults and children of any age with all kinds of dermatological conditions...

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Dr. Derrick Phillips

Consultant Dermatologist

Dr Phillips is a Consultant Dermatologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. He sees adult patients with general skin problems (acne, rosacea, psoriasis, eczema, other rashes & hyperhidrosis) and has expertise in skin cancer and skin surgery...

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Where are lipomas most commonly found?

Lipomas are most commonly found on the arms, shoulders, upper back, chest, thighs and buttocks. However, lipomas can be found anywhere where fat cells are present. 

Lipomas are most common in middle-aged men and women. These benign tumours have a slight tendency to run in families, so, if there are one or more people in your family with a lipoma, your chances of developing one increase significantly.

How does lipoma removal work?

Lipoma removal is generally performed under local anaesthetic. In the rare instances where a lipoma is very large or deep, you may require a general anaesthetic, which will keep you asleep and free from pain throughout the entire surgery.

Either way, the procedure will be very quick and you will not feel a thing.

The surgeon will apply a local anaesthetic, make an incision into your skin and cut out the lump. It may be sent to a lab and tested for any signs of pathology, such as cancer. We will then use stitches or medical glue to close the skin, and a bandage applied to prevent bleeding.

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If you have any questions or queries please call to speak to one of our advisors or request a call back to speak at a time that suits you.

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Why should I have my lipoma removed?

Lumps and bumps will not go away on their own.

If the blemish bothers you in some way – if it is unsightly, painful or growing in a worrying way then your doctor may recommend that it be removed.

There is also a small risk that the lipoma is in fact a sign of something more serious. It is worth removing if your dermatologist has any concerns about it, such as if it is painful, red or hot, or is hard and does not move. 

Once a lipoma has been removed surgically, recurrences are uncommon. 

Why have your lipoma removed at the Cadogan Clinic? 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Lipomas are caused by an overgrowth of fat cells. When we look closely, we can see that they are made up of large normal looking fat cells arranged as lobules within a fibrous capsule.

This growth typically occur with the passage of time, as our bodies tend to naturally acquire various lumps, bumps and other imperfections as the years progress.

This is quite normal, and some will go away by themselves and others will not. The cause is often hereditary.

Lipomas are soft, fatty accumulations tend to form just beneath the surface of the skin in middle age and the cause is often hereditary.

Our genes, passed down to us from our parents and generations before them, tend to determine everything about our physical appearance and development.

Sometimes the genetic code contains faults that can result in minor imperfections or hindrances that we barely notice, and sometimes the conditions can be more severe.

Lipomas can be caused by such genetic flaws, but they are nothing to worry about.

Lipomas can form at any part of body wherever there are fat tissues present.

Lipomas are most commonly found on the arms, shoulders, upper back, chest, thighs and buttocks.

Lipomas are very common, and can be anything from the size of a small pea to a few centimetres across. They can grow as large as 10cm if left untreated for many years.

You may find that they move slightly when you press them, but should feel soft, rubbery and squishy to touch.

Lipomas are generally not painful and grow slowly. Some will stay the same size for many years.

Most patients only feel uncomfortable about them when they become noticeable after many years. In rare instances, lipomas may develop deep inside the body and may cause symptoms when they press against blood vessels, nerves, or organs.

The most common reasons for lipoma removal are cosmetic. Once they have formed, lipomas are unlikely to simply go away on their own, no matter how long or how patiently you wait for them to disappear.

Many patients are bothered by the appearance of lumps and blemishes, consider them to look unsightly, or find that clothes or jewellery snag on them.

Recovery time is minimal, you will be able to immediately resume daily activities, although you may be asked to wear a dressing for a few days as the site of the treatment could be slightly tender.

But there is rarely any scarring and the result is usually improved self-confidence and self esteem, and peace of mind.

Surgery is the only effective way to remove lipomas.

There are various home remedies for reducing lipomas, but none of these are recommended by the Cadogan Clinic as there is no research to prove that they work effectively.

These include:

  • Essential oils such as tea tree or sage oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Green tea
  • Honey
  • Natural oils
  • Sage extract
  • Turmeric

Lipomas occur naturally with the passage of time wherever there are fatty deposits, so it is not always possible to prevent lipomas.

That said, being overweight or obese is one of the main preventable causes of the appearance of lipomas, as the more fatty deposits the more likely you are to develop lipomas.

Treatment is typically via surgical excision. Lipomas tend to be cut out quite easily, often through a tiny stab incision. Deeper ones can be more diffuse and less easy, but still possible to carry out under local anaesthesia.

There are variants, where other tissues occur in the fat, as for instance blood vessels. These angiolipomas are common and not much extra trouble. Those occurring on the nape of the neck are fibrous and diffuse and difficult to remove completely.

Liposuction can be used to remove or reduce larger lipomas. The incision can be hidden. The drawback is that histology is more difficult. One wants to know that this lipoma is not malignant. In addition, one may not remove all the lipoma, making recurrence more frequent.

Lipomas may recur if not completely removed. Even with excision, it is easy to leave a lobule behind. Where people have multiple lipomas, it may just be a new one appearing.

The vast majority of lipomas are quickly removed under local anaesthesia, although it is possible to have lipomas removed under general anaesthetic in cases where they are very large.

There is one group of patients who inherit the condition of Familial Multiple Lipomatosis as a dominant gene. These people may can develop tens (or hundreds) of lipomas over their lifetime.

The condition is not common. Surgeons can remove up to 10 or so lipomas at a time.

Lipomas are mostly treated for cosmetic reasons and are not cancerous. That said, a small number may become malignant.

The lipoma must be removed and then assessed under a microscope. Some signs that your lipoma may be problematic, include if they are large, growing fast, painful or in an unusual place, such as deep in the muscle.

For this reason, one should always arrange for lipomas removed to be checked histologically after excision.

ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS OR RISKS OF LIPOMA REMOVAL?

There is a small risk of bruising or that that you may bleed more than expected, or get an infection but this is rare. 

There is also a possibility that a pocket of fluid or blood may form under your skin. This may heal on its own, or you may require further treatment to remove it. 

Very occasionally lipoma removal leaves a permanent scar, but this is rare.

It is possible you may scar following your lipoma removal, depending on the size and position of the lipoma, your natural propensity to scarring and the skill of your surgeon.

Our highly experienced surgeons are specially trained to leave minimal scarring.

How to find us

The Cadogan Clinic is based at 120 Sloane Street in Chelsea, just off Sloane Square and the Kings Road.

We are accessible by all major bus routes that pass through Sloane Square and Sloane Street, as well as Sloane Square tube station.

We are just a 5 minute walk northwards up Sloane Street once you have arrived at Sloane Square.

Local pay parking is available just around the corner from the Clinic on Cadogan Gate, Cadogan Square and Cadogan Gardens. Our local residential parking zone is the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.

Address: 120 Sloane Street, Chelsea, London, SW1X 9BW

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In The Media

This month Consultant Dermatologist Dr Susan Mayou discusses rosacea with Heart.co.uk, and talks to the Daily Mail about the latest skincare craze, chlorophyll.

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