Fat deposits under skin: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatments

Skin is the biggest organ of your body having various layers made of muscle cells and adipose tissue (fat cells). Accumulation of fat under the skin is a natural and completely normal phenomenon. The accumulated fat helps in preventing hyperthermia by acting as an insulator to the external stimuli. But fat deposits under skin, known as cellulitis results in aesthetic issues.

Fat deposits under the skin can also cause lipoma that also results from adipose tissue deposition under the skin over time. Development of fatty lumps under the skin can happen to people of all ages; however, adults are more prone to develop lipoma. It can form in any organ or part of your body particularly in the following areas:

  • Thighs
  • Arms
  • Abdomen
  • Back
  • Shoulder
  • Neck

Lipomas a benign and considered as humans made of fatty tissues. Like all the other fat deposits under the skin, lipomas are also mostly harmless.

Deposition of fat is also known as xanthomas when cholesterol combines with fats under the skin. Usually, high cholesterol levels in the bloodstream are associated with the fat deposition under your skin and result in further health issues like heart diseases.

Xanthomas can be painless and in general harmless, but can be painful or distressful because of its location as well as can damage your appearance. It is, however, removable if necessary.

Fat deposits under skin:

fat deposits under skin
Fat deposits under skin
Image source:

Your body deposits fat as a source of energy in case of emergencies (more as energy reserves), and it usually takes place when you consume more calorie than you need or burning. These deposits are generally harmless and cannot be regarded as tumors or cancerous growth.

They, however, have aesthetic issues and may dent the self-confidence and appearance of an individual. As there is no specific organ in the human body to deposit fat, your body just arbitrarily stores them under the skin.

Tumors resulting from fatty deposits under the skin have some specific characteristics. When you think that you have fat deposition under your skin that may result in tumor formation you must check for the following attributes:

  • Whether it is growing slowly
  • Colorless
  • Pale in appearance
  • Present just under the skin
  • When prodded with the finger it will move easily
  • It will be soft on touch
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Fat deposits under skin causing tumors are generally located in the shoulders, back and neck areas and less commonly on the arms, thighs and stomach. When fat deposits under skin take place on some nerve tissues present under the skin, then they may be painful.

If there is any variation in color or consistency of the fat deposits under your skin, then you must consult your physician immediately. Liposarcoma, a cancerous condition often looks similar to lipoma, the tumor results from fat deposits under your skin.

Associated problems:

As already mentioned, deposition of fat under your skin is usually a simple process. However, there are chances that such deposition is the indicating some serious issues or health problems in your body. Deposition of fat may take place on some critical and major organs of your body including pancreas, kidneys, and liver.

In general, they can also be stored on your hips, thighs and abdomen region. These accumulated fats pose a danger to your body when they start travelling to different areas of your body through bloodstream resulting in serious medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart-related problems, diabetes and other problems.

The cause of fat deposits under skin resulting in lipomas:

Still, the real cause of lipoma formation is not known, and you have a higher chance of developing lipomas if there is a family history of it. Lipomas are commonly seen in adult population between 40 to 60 years of age. Some conditions, however, can increase the chance of developing lipomas such as:

  • Madelung’s disease
  • Gardner’s syndrome
  • Cowden syndrome
  • Adiposis dolorosa (this is a rare condition where many lipomas are developed, and they are usually painful)

Diagnosis of fat deposits under skin:

Physical examination usually diagnoses fat deposits under skin and their types. Your physician will do the physical examination by touching the area where fat deposition took place and see whether they are painful or soft.

These fat deposits usually move easily on touching as they are composed of adipose tissues. Sometimes, your physician may opt for biopsy of the fat deposits. For this purpose, your physician will scrape off a tiny portion of the fat deposits and send it for examination in the laboratory.

The test is performed as a routine to rule out any chance of cancerous growth even though fat deposits under skin are rarely cancerous. But, liposarcoma, the cancerous form looks similar to the benign lipomas. Liposarcoma grows quickly under the skin and is painful. In case of a positive biopsy report, your physician will carry out CT scan and MRI scan to confirm the biopsy result.

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How to reduce fat deposits under skin:

Usually, fat deposits under the skin do not result in any difficulty and can be kept unattended. But, in some cases, they may make you uncomfortable, and you may tell your physician to remove them. Your physician will recommend you the best treatment available on the basis of different factors such as:

  • Whether the fat deposits are painful
  • You have a family history of different types of skin cancer
  • Whether you had skin cancer previously
  • The number of fat deposits you have
  • The size of the fat deposits

You can reduce deposition of fat under the skin by several methods. First, you have to ensure reducing the overall fat deposition within your body, and here diet plays a crucial role. Proper diet can considerably reduce fat deposition inside your body.

It is important to have a low-fat-diet while doing regular exercise that will keep a check on your body cholesterol levels. With the decrease in cholesterol levels, you will find the fat deposits getting dissolved. Moreover, lower levels of cholesterol mean no more new fat deposition under your skin.

Avoid the intake of trans-fats and saturated fats through your meals. Replace them with healthy fats (the polyunsaturated fats) such as those present in olive oil, sunflower oil or flaxseed oil. These oils keep your heart healthy and improve the overall metabolism of your body.

It’s also recommended to remove excess fat from your body once this starts happening. Lots of NYC residents are looking for services that specialize in liposuction in New York City to help get rid of large fat deposits. This is a safe and effective way to remove fat with no downtime, and can even be done in combination with other body contouring procedures like tummy tucks or mommy makeovers.

The next important aspect is exercise. You have to find time to exercise for at 45 minutes a day for 5 days a week. Such routine will help you to burn excess fat from your body and aid in increasing the metabolism rate within the body.

Consider having more servings of vegetables and fruits and minimize intake of red meat and poultry products. If you opt to consult a healthcare professional, then you may be suggested to have statin medications.

It is essential to treat the underlying causes contributing to the increase in blood cholesterol levels such as cirrhosis, cancer of digestive tract and diabetes. Once the cholesterol levels of your body get back to normal, the problem of fat deposition under your skin will be automatically resolved.

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Topical acid solutions may help in to reduce the fat deposition under your skin. Several researchers have suggested that application of ointments containing trichloroacetic acid to the affected locations may contribute in burning the fat deposits under the skin. However, apply such ointments only when suggested by your physician and never self-medicate.

You can use laser treatments to remove fat deposits from under your skin. Use of YAG lasers may be an efficient means to remove fat deposits changing your facial features. However, the treatment is time-consuming and continued treatment for several months is usually necessary.

Another treatment option for fat deposits or cholesterol bumps is to opt for the surgical option. Consult your physician and understand whether you are the right candidate to go for the surgical procedure.

Both the laser and the surgical treatment methods are temporary solutions though as you are not addressing the cause of the problem and fat deposits tend to reappear. If the fat deposits under the skin are lipomas, then the surgical method is the most common means of treating the condition.

When the lipomas are large, and still, growing surgical removal is particularly helpful. If the fat deposits under your skin are lipomas, then they rarely come back after being removed surgically.

When your fat deposits under the skin are diagnosed as lipomas, then you may opt for liposuction and steroid injections to treat them. However, these options may not completely treat the condition.


Fat deposits under the skin are usually harmless and may produce benign tumors. So there is less possibility of existing fat deposits under your skin to spread.  The condition does not penetrate through the surrounding tissue or the muscles and is not a life-threatening condition.

However, you cannot self-treat fat deposits under your skin and control them. Some lumps under the skin can be reduced by using heat and ice packs, but not fat deposit under the skin. Heat or Ice packs do not work for fat based lumps. Consult your physician for possible treatment options if you want to get rid of fat deposits under your skin.


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