Are There Any Complications from Lipoma Removal Surgery?

Lipoma is a common type of benign tumor made up of fat cells. It usually appears as a small lump under the skin but can occur anywhere where fat cells are present. While most of these fatty lumps do not cause significant health problems and can be left untreated, some may require surgical removal for cosmetic or medical reasons.

Surgical removal of lipomas is a common and relatively safe procedure. However, like any surgery, it carries some risk of complications.

Possible Complications After Lipoma Removal

While these procedures are performed without any complications, you should be aware of some potential lipoma surgery side effects. Also, note that discomfort for a couple of days is normal in the area where the lipoma was removed, and pain medications may be prescribed to help manage it.


Surgical incisions create an entry point for bacteria, increasing the risk of infection. Proper wound care and antibiotic prophylaxis can help prevent postoperative infections.

Bleeding and Hematoma

Bleeding during or after surgery can result in a hematoma (collection of blood) under the skin. Surgeons take precautions to minimize bleeding and address any hematomas promptly.


Scarring is a common outcome of any surgery, including lipoma removal. The extent of scarring may vary depending on factors like incision size, healing process, and individual skin characteristics.

Nerve Damage

Lipomas located near nerves pose a risk of inadvertent nerve injury during surgery. As a result, numbness, tingling, or altered sensation in the area surrounding the lipoma may occur.

Incomplete Removal

In some cases, it may be challenging to completely excise a lipoma, especially if it is large, deep-seated, or near vital structures. Residual lipoma tissue could potentially lead to recurrence.

Skin Irregularities

Following lipoma removal, changes in skin texture, contour irregularities, or depressions at the surgical site may occur. These cosmetic concerns can sometimes be managed with further treatment.

Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions to anesthesia, sutures, or other surgical materials used during the procedure are possible but rare. Patients with known allergies should inform their healthcare provider beforehand.

Delayed Healing

Poor wound care, underlying medical conditions, or infections can lead to delayed wound healing. Patients should follow postoperative care instructions to promote proper healing.

Suture Complications

Issues like suture reaction, suture abscess, or suture granuloma may occasionally arise, causing discomfort or requiring additional treatment to address.


While uncommon, a lipoma may grow back at the same site or develop new lipomas in the future, necessitating further evaluation and management.

How Do Surgeons Remove Lipomas?

Surgeons employ various techniques to remove lipomas, depending on the size, location, and characteristics of the benign tumor. Here are common methods used by surgeons for lipoma removal:

  • Surgical Excision. Surgeons make an incision over the lipoma, extract the fatty tissue, and close the wound with sutures. To ensure complete removal, surgical excision is suitable for larger, deep-seated, or multiple lipomas.
  • Liposuction. The surgeon will insert a thin tube (cannula) through a small incision to suction out the fatty tissue of the lipoma. Liposuction is ideal for smaller, more superficial lipomas and results in minimal scarring.
  • Minimal Invasive Techniques. Minimal incision extraction involves making smaller incisions compared to traditional surgery to remove the lipoma. These techniques aim to reduce scarring and recovery time while effectively removing the lipoma.
  • Steroid Injections. Steroid injections may be administered directly into the lipoma to shrink its size by reducing inflammation and fat cell growth. This non-surgical approach is suitable for smaller lipomas or cases where surgery is not preferred.
  • Laser Therapy. Laser energy is used to heat and dissolve the fat cells within the lipoma, causing it to shrink. Laser therapy is less invasive than surgery and effective for treating superficial lipomas.
  • Radiofrequency Ablation. Radiofrequency energy is applied to heat and destroy the fat cells in the lipoma, reducing its size. This technique is suited for superficial lipomas and can result in minimal scarring.
  • Cryotherapy. Cryotherapy involves freezing the lipoma using extreme cold to destroy the fat cells within the tumor. It is commonly used for small, superficial lipomas and may require multiple sessions for complete removal.
  • Electrocautery. An electrically heated instrument is used to burn and remove the lipoma tissue. Electrocautery is suitable for smaller lipomas and helps seal blood vessels during the procedure.

How to Prepare Before Your Lipoma Removal

  • Discuss Medications With Your Surgeon During the Consultation. During your consultation, inform your surgeon about your medical history and any medications, supplements, or herbal remedies you are taking. Some may need to be adjusted before surgery. Communication regarding your current medication regimen is essential to avoid any potential interactions or complications during the surgical procedure. Your surgeon will also provide guidance on medication management.
  • Quit Smoking. If you smoke, consider quitting before surgery to reduce the risk of complications and promote better healing postoperatively. Smoking can impair healing and increase the risk of complications during and after surgery. Quitting smoking before the procedure can improve surgical outcomes and overall health.
  • Arrange Transportation. Plan for someone to drive you to and from the surgical facility on the day of the procedure, even if local anesthesia is used. It's important to have a reliable transportation plan to ensure a safe journey and receive the necessary support on the day of the surgery.
  • Follow Preoperative Instructions. Adhere to any preoperative guidelines provided by your surgeon, such as fasting requirements, showering using antibacterial soap, or restrictions on eating and drinking before surgery. Compliance with preoperative instructions is crucial to optimize the safety and success of the surgical procedure.
  • Arrange for Recovery Support. While lipoma removal is typically an outpatient procedure, it may be helpful to have someone assist you with daily tasks and provide emotional support during recovery. Plan for a friend or family member to help out if needed.
  • Wear Comfortable Clothing. Choose loose-fitting clothing that is comfortable to wear on the day of surgery. This will make it easier to change into and out of surgical garments, if necessary. Avoid wearing jewelry or accessories that may interfere with the procedure.
  • Stay Hydrated and Get Adequate Rest. Ensure that you stay hydrated on the days leading up to your surgery, as dehydration can negatively impact recovery. Also, get plenty of rest to help your body prepare for the procedure.

What Happens After Your Lipoma Removal?

  • Recovery Time. Recovery time can vary depending on the size and location of the lipoma, as well as the type of surgical technique used. Most patients can resume light regular activities within a few days and return to normal activities, including strenuous exercises, within a few weeks.
  • Scarring. While minimally invasive techniques aim to reduce scarring, it is normal to have some scarring after a surgical procedure. Your surgeon will provide instructions on how to care for the incision site and minimize scarring.
  • Final Results. It may take several weeks or months for the final results of lipoma removal to become apparent. The incision site will gradually heal, and any residual swelling or bruising should subside during this time. The overall appearance of the surgical area will continue to improve as the incision site matures and fades.
  • Removed Lipoma for Biopsy. The tissue may be sent to a laboratory for analysis if the lipoma is removed for diagnostic purposes. Your surgeon will discuss the results with you and provide appropriate treatment recommendations if necessary.
  • Follow-Up Visits. Follow-up visits are essential to monitor healing, address any concerns or complications, and ensure optimal surgical outcomes.

How to Prevent Risks and Complications After Lipoma Removal Surgery

  • Follow Postoperative Instructions. Adhere to the surgeon's guidelines for wound care, medication, and activity restrictions.
  • Monitor Surgical Site. Check for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge, and report any concerns promptly.
  • Attend Follow-Up Appointments. Keep scheduled appointments for postoperative checks and removal of sutures if necessary.
  • Avoid Strenuous Activities. Refrain from heavy lifting or strenuous exercises that can strain the surgical site during the initial recovery period.
  • Maintain Proper Hygiene. Keep the surgical area clean and dry to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Apply Ice Packs. Use ice packs as directed to minimize swelling and discomfort at the surgical site.
  • Eat a Healthy Diet. Support healing by consuming nutritious foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein.
  • Stay Hydrated. Drink adequate water to aid in the healing process and overall well-being.
  • Protect the Incision. Avoid exposing the incision to direct sunlight or abrasive materials that may irritate the skin.
  • Communicate With Your Surgeon. Report any unusual symptoms, pain, or concerns to the healthcare team for prompt evaluation and management.

Choose a Board-Certified Surgeon in Your Area to Minimize Lipoma Removal Complications

Lipoma removal procedures are generally safe and have a low risk of complications. However, you must choose a highly trained and experienced board-certified plastic surgeon. A certified surgeon has undergone rigorous training and demonstrated proficiency in performing lipoma removal procedures safely and effectively. They also adhere to strict standards of care and can guide the best course of action for your specific needs. With proper preparation and postoperative care, you can minimize the risk of complications and achieve optimal results from your lipoma removal surgery.

The Minor Surgery Center (TMSC) in Toronto is known for its exceptional surgical care, specializing in minor surgeries such as lipoma removal. Our team of certified plastic surgeons has extensive experience and technical expertise in performing various surgical procedures with precision and artistry. We prioritize patient safety, comfort, and satisfaction to provide the best possible outcomes for our patients.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation!

May 15, 2024