What Is A Lipoma And How Is It Related To Lipedema?

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Lipedema is a progressive disease that, in some instances, involves the growth and development of lipomas. Lipomas are noncancerous soft-tissue tumors that patients develop most often in adulthood. These slow-growing, fatty lumps appear just beneath the skin. Patients can have more than one lipoma, which are "doughy" to the touch but rarely tender. Lipedema patients can experience this overgrowth of fat cells in conjunction with their condition, and finding an expert to treat them may be necessary if lipoma growths become painful. 


Dr. Jaime Schwartz is one of the leading experts in the country on lipedema. Lipedema is a progressive disease revolving around excessive fatty-fluid buildup in mainly female patients. Dr. Schwartz is a board-certified plastic surgeon and founder of Total Lipedema Care (TLC) in Beverly Hills, CA. For women who are living with this disease, lipomas or benign growths are part of the equation in some cases. Here is a breakdown of lipedema and lipomas, and how a specialist like Dr. Schwartz can diagnose and treat patients with both.


An overview of lipedema

Lipedema is a chronic disease that, if left undiagnosed, can lead to a painful, debilitating condition. It is commonly known as the "fatty-fluid disease" or "fat disease." Research has discovered it is a genetic disorder that mainly strikes only women. Women are often misdiagnosed as having a weight problem, but lipedema is much more that extra weight. Although the cause is unknown, it can be inherited. Current studies show that lipedema is related to a woman’s hormones, and the onset may coincide with puberty and get worse with pregnancy or perimenopause. Since lipedema is not a simple case of being overweight, a lifestyle change of diet and exercise is not the answer to this progressive disease. Fatty tissue begins to accumulate in the lower extremities, and in some rare instances, the upper arms. As the disease progresses to various stages, the painful buildup worsens and may become debilitating. 


What is a lipoma?

A lipoma is a growth or accumulation of fat cells. Familial multiple lipomatosis (FML) is a rare genetic disorder that involves the presence of lipomas in the body. As the name suggests, FML is diagnosed when multiple lipomatosis occurs in more than one family member, often over several generations. Lipomas are a slow-growing, fatty tissue buildup or tumor-like growths found just beneath the surface of the skin. Other characteristics of lipomas:

  • Usually small (less than 2 inches in diameter), but can grow larger 
  • Have a "doughy" texture and are soft to the touch they — can move with slight finger pressure
  • Normally seen in the neck, arms, armpits, chest, back, shoulders, abdomen, and thighs
  • Typically located just beneath the skin’s surface but can be deeper
  • Painful if located on a nearby nerve or deeper in the body on joints, organs, or blood vessels
  • They can occur at any age but are most often detected during adulthood
  • Lipomas can occur as a single lump or multiple instances
  • They are benign growths, so they are not cancerous


Are lipomas and lipedema related?

Lipomas and lipedema are related conditions driven by an abnormal accumulation of adipose tissue that appears to be genetic. Lipomas, like lipedema, are a hereditary trait passed down from other female family members. In some cases, lipedema patients display lipoma growths in their lower extremities or upper arms as part of their developing disease. Seeking professional advice and treatment options with a specialist like Dr. Schwartz is a crucial element to getting the right diagnosis and help. Dr. Schwartz is not only a board-certified plastic surgeon, he is also skilled in diagnosing and treating patients with confirmed lipomas as well as other conditions like lipedema. 


Treatment for lipomas

When lipomas are small, discreet, and not painful, patients rarely need treatment intervention. If patients feel insecure about visible lipomas or are experiencing pain, Dr. Schwartz can offer treatment options including: 

  • Liposuction: This can remove the lipoma beneath the skin’s surface during a minor outpatient procedure
  • Surgical removal: An extraction technique that Dr. Schwartz uses to surgically remove the lipoma through a small incision


A lipoma is rarely a serious medical condition, but if patients notice a lump, bump, or swelling anywhere on the body, they should seek medical advice. Lipomas are generally easy to identify, and with the right intervention, they can be managed. Even removing them for cosmetic purposes can help patients feel better about their appearance. Every situation is highly individualized, so letting an expert like Dr. Schwartz guide you on the next steps of your care is essential.


Total Lipedema Care’s primary goal is to help patients seeking treatment, guidance, or emotional support for their condition. When patients feel self-conscious or uncomfortable about the presence of lipomas, a consultation with an expert like Dr. Jaime Schwartz can transform the way a patient feels and looks. Millions of women are living with lipedema and some experience fatty lipoma growths. If you are concerned that you may have lipomas or lipedema, we encourage you to contact Total Lipedema Care in Beverly Hills, CA, today. Finding a lipedema specialist like Dr. Schwartz can give you a diagnosis, intervention, and treatment to improve your health and overall well-being.


* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.