Lipomas

info sheet

The information here is a guide and reflects only the views of Dr Slater, Prof. Fawcett and Dr Hodgkinson.

WHAT IS A LIPOMA?

A lipoma is a non-cancerous lump of fat that forms a nodule under the skin. They are extremely common and may be single or multiple. They tend to grow larger over time. They may occur anywhere on the body, but are most common on the back. They are soft, mobile lumps and are usually painless. Lipomas of the skin are not thought to ever become cancerous. There is a rare type of cancer of the fat (liposarcoma). It is not known to arise from a benign lipoma, but it is important that the correct diagnosis is made prior to surgery. Lipomas are common in all ages, but tend to occur in the 40-60 year old age group.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A LIPOMA?

Generally, lipomas are completely painless. Occasionally, due to their position on the back, they may be uncomfortable. For many people, they are cosmetically unappealing.

WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR A LIPOMA?

Lipomas are harmless, requiring no treatment if they are not causing any bother. They may surgically removed if required.

HOW IS A LIPOMA REMOVED?

A small cut is made over the lump and it is easily removed. The skin is then sutured closed.

WHAT TYPE OF ANAESTHETIC WILL I HAVE?

The type of anaesthetic used depends on the patient, the position of the lump and the size of the lump. Very small lipomas are easily removed with an injection of local anaesthetic to numb the skin. Large lipomas especially on the back are best removed under general anaesthesia (fully asleep).

WHEN WILL I BE DISCHARGED FROM HOSPITAL?

It is quite common to have a lipoma removed as day surgery. This means you will be able to leave after a recovery period. If you have had a general anaesthetic, you cannot drive, operate machinery or sign legal documents for 24 hours.

WHAT ARE THE COMPLICATIONS OF LIPOMA SURGERY?

Specific Risks:

General Risks:

WHAT TO EXPECT IMMEDIATELY AFTER SURGERY

Pain Relief

Every effort will be made to minimize the discomfort. Your surgeon and nurses will be monitoring your level of pain control frequently. If the wound is on your arm or leg – try and elevate that part. This reduces selling and pain. Local anaesthetic will be used in the wound and lasts for about 12 hours.

There are two major types of pain relievers after lipoma surgery.

Panadol

NSAIDs (Indocid, Brufen, Mobic)

Eating

It is usual to return to a normal diet within a day of general anaesthetic. There are no restrictions. It is very common to feel slightly nauseated for 12 hours following surgery.

AFTER DISCHARGE

Your Incision

Activity

Costs to be incurred from this surgery