What are lipomas, and how are they diagnosed?

Written by: Mr Thomas Bragg
Published: | Updated: 10/08/2023
Edited by: Conor Lynch

Mr Thomas Bragg, a highly accomplished and experienced consultant plastic surgeon, details what lipomas are, and what surgical procedures can be used to remove them.

What are lipomas, and what are the typical presentations?

Lipomas are a very common group of lumps that we see, and occur in between one to two per cent of the population. The vast amount of them are not serious, and patients might notice a bit of swelling just underneath the skin, and in some patients, they can grow rapidly. There are some types of lipomas that we will need to do further analysis on, by using things such as ultrasound scans, MRI scans, or indeed, if necessary, surgery.



How are they diagnosed?

Ultrasound scans and MRI scans are particularly useful. MRI scans allow us to see the blood flow to the lesion, which is very helpful.



What factors determine the need for surgical intervention?

The factors include the results of investigations, and the patients simply just wanting the lesion removed.



What are the surgical techniques used for the removal of lipomas?

Surgery to remove lipomas is generally performed under local anaesthetic, and normally takes up to around 45 minutes to complete. We infiltrate the area to be able to effectively perform surgery.


For bigger lesions, general anaesthesia may be required. We would usually remove big lipomas as a day-case procedure, but will take up the majority of the patient’s day.



What are the risks associated with lipoma surgery?

General risks include bleeding, numbness, and infection. Occasionally, lesions reappear. One in 20 people will suffer a recurring lipoma after undergoing surgery to remove it.




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Mr Thomas Bragg

By Mr Thomas Bragg
Plastic surgery

Mr Thomas Bragg is a highly reputable and qualified consultant plastic surgeon who specialises in skin cancer, skin lesions, skin tag removal, hand surgery, and lymphoedema. He currently practises at the Sancta Maria Hospital in Swansea.

Mr Bragg, who also possesses quite a substantial amount of expertise in hand fractures, hand injuries, and sarcoma, completed his first medical qualification in 1995, obtaining an MBCHb in biology and biological sciences from Malvern College. He then went on to successfully complete a degree in medicine in 2001 at the University of Birmingham.

Following this, Mr Bragg completed his basic surgical training in Worcestershire and Warwickshire, notably gaining membership of the Royal College of Surgeons in 2005. He completed higher surgical training in Oxford, completing a year as the senior fellow in sarcoma surgery in 2015.

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