Does Weight Loss Reduce a Lipoma?

Liposuction surgery
Liposuction and surgical excision may work better than weight loss to get rid of lipomas. (Image: Hin255/iStock/Getty Images)

A strange paradox exists with lipomas. They are made up of fat but don't go away when you reduce your level of body fat. Almost by definition, lipomas don't respond to weight loss. If you have one or multiple lipomas, consult your physician about your treatment options. Sometimes, it's best to just leave them.

What They Are

A lipoma is a benign soft tumor. It is made up of fatty tissue and often sits just beneath your skin in areas such as your head, neck, shoulders and back. Being benign means lipomas pose little risk to you, even if you find them unsightly. They grow very slowly, feel firm but spongy and move a little when you press against them. Most don't cause any pain; if you have a small painful mass, it may not be a lipoma, so you should consult your health care provider immediately. Some people inherit a tendency to develop lipomas, but it is more common that a lipoma appears in those between 40 and 60 years old.l

Weighty Matters

Although lipomas are composed of fat tissue and they can occur anywhere there are fat cells, these tumors usually don't respond to weight loss, doctors say. Lipomas may slightly increase in size if you gain weight, and some people believe that lipomas become more visible once you lose a dramatic amount of weight.

Leave It Alone

Most lipomas are best left alone, suggests the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. More deeply embedded lipomas, ones that cause pain or ones that grow rapidly, should be monitored by your doctor and reviewed for removal options.

Treatment Options

If you have multiple tumors, surgery is a common option. But In general, tumors are surgically removed only if their positions pose a risk to surrounding nerve, muscle, bone or blood vessels. Liposuction is another way to treat lipomas. The procedure involves breaking up the mass and then vacuuming them out with a wand-like instrument. Among the benefits of liposuction are that you have a quicker recovery time, smaller scars and the ability to remove multiple lipomas with just one incision. However, sometimes it's difficult to get the entire mass out with liposuction and they can slowly grow back. One other options is a steroid injection to shrink the tumor.

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