At a glance

A lipoma is a growth of fatty tissue which develops under the skin. A lipoma can occur anywhere on the body but is most common on the shoulders, chest, trunk, neck, thighs, and armpits. Rarely, lipomas may form in internal organs, bones or muscles. These growths are often benign and rarely harmful but may be surgically removed if it causes pain, complications, or other symptoms. In cases where a doctor cannot distinguish a lipoma from another type of tumour, surgery may be advised to remove it. It may also be removed for cosmetic reasons.

Risk factors for cancer include rapid growth, large size, and further investigations such as an ultrasound, biopsy, CT scan and/or MRI may be required before removal of the mass.

How to prepare for the procedure

Before surgery, Dr Maraj will advise you on how to prepare for the procedure. Surgery is performed in theatre, depending on the size and location of the lipoma. In cases where your surgeon chooses to perform surgery in theatre, you will be instructed to stop eating and drinking 6 hours before the procedure. You may also then need to stay in the hospital overnight for observation.

What does surgery involve

Depending on the location and size, a lipoma may be removed by making an incision into the skin and removing the mass or lipoma under local anaesthetic. For more significant, larger lipomas or difficult anatomical areas, a more significant incision is necessary, in which case you will be put under general anaesthetic. The mass or lipoma will be sent to the laboratory to exclude any cancer cells.

What to expect post-procedure

Afterwards, you can expect some pain and minimum bleeding near the surgical site. You can expect recovery within two weeks, depending on the location of the lipoma. This is merely a basic guide; Dr Maraj will be able to provide you with any further information should you need clarity.

Risks & complications

While this is a common and generally safe surgical procedure, complications may still occur. Guidelines and protocols will be followed to prevent complications. Dr Maraj will take care of and monitor you closely for any complications such as bleeding or infection. Other complications include nerve or vessel damage. In some cases, you may be kept in a hospital for observation and treatment.


This website was designed to offer information relating to surgical conditions. Dr Amisha Maraj will not be liable for any patient who misinterepts the content, or any inaccuracy, misconceptions, oversights or omissions on this website. In the event of an emergency please go to your nearest casualty or Life Brenthurst casualty. If you are concerned that you have symptoms or a medical illness please seek urgent appropriate healthcare.