Spindle Cell Lipoma

Overview

What is a spindle cell lipoma?

Spindle cell lipoma is a rare type of lipoma, a lump of fatty tissue growing underneath your skin. It usually occurs in your shoulder or the back of your neck. Spindle cell lipomas grow most commonly in your subcutaneous tissue, the deepest layer of your skin.

Spindle cell lipomas get their name from the spindle cells they contain. Spindle cells are a specific type of cell that are longer than they’re wide. Both healthy tissues and tumors can contain spindle cells.

Is a spindle cell lipoma cancer?

No, spindle cell lipomas aren’t cancerous (malignant). They aren’t dangerous, and you may not need any treatment. Your healthcare provider may remove the lump if it’s painful, growing large or bothers you.

Who is most likely to get a spindle cell lipoma?

Spindle cell lipomas are most common in adults ages 40 to 60. They’re more common in men and people assigned male at birth (AMAB) than in women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB).

How common are spindle cell lipomas?

Lipomas, in general, are common. About 1 in 100 people develop a lipoma at some point in their lives.

Spindle cell lipomas are less common. They make up only 1.5% of all lipoma diagnoses.

Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of a spindle cell lipoma?

A spindle cell lipoma usually looks like a round lump under your skin. It may move slightly when you press on it. It doesn’t usually hurt.

Lipomas typically grow very slowly. But you may notice a lipoma getting larger over time.

What causes a spindle cell lipoma?

Experts don’t know exactly what causes spindle cell lipomas. Some research points to a genetic connection. People with spindle cell lipomas may have gene changes (mutations) inherited from their biological parents. These gene mutations make them more likely to develop a spindle cell lipoma.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is a spindle cell lipoma diagnosed?

Your provider will remove the lipoma and send it to a pathology lab for testing and analysis. Unless they suspect a liposarcoma, you usually don’t need any further tests.

If they suspect a liposarcoma, then they’ll also take imaging tests. In most cases, MRI is best for diagnosing liposarcoma, as it shows detailed images of your soft tissues from all angles. In some cases, your provider may also take a CT scan.

Management and Treatment

How is a spindle cell lipoma treated?

You don’t always need treatment for a spindle cell lipoma. You may choose to remove the growth if it’s large or uncomfortable. Or you may want it removed for cosmetic reasons.

Before lipoma removal, you may have an injection of numbing medicine (local anesthesia) or medicine to help you remain asleep (general anesthesia). The type of anesthesia depends on the size and depth of the lipoma.

Your healthcare provider removes a lipoma by making small incisions and using surgical tools. You usually can return home the same day as a lipoma removal.

Prevention

How can I prevent a spindle cell lipoma?

There’s no way to prevent a spindle cell lipoma. Fortunately, they aren’t dangerous or cancerous. Spindle cell lipomas usually don’t grow back after removal.

Outlook / Prognosis

What is the outlook for a spindle cell lipoma?

Spindle cell lipomas have excellent outcomes. They aren’t cancerous, and small lipomas don’t usually interfere with your usual activities. If you choose to remove a spindle cell lipoma, it’s unlikely to grow back.

Living With

When should I see my healthcare provider for a spindle cell lipoma?

You don’t always need treatment for a spindle cell lipoma. You should see your healthcare provider if you have a bump that’s:

  • Growing.
  • Interfering with your usual activities.
  • Painful.
  • Tender or warm to the touch.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a liposarcoma and a spindle cell lipoma?

Liposarcomas are cancerous (malignant) growths. Spindle cell lipomas aren’t cancer. Liposarcomas are more likely to grow in your abdomen, thigh or behind your knee. Spindle cell lipomas usually grow in your shoulder or neck.

What is the difference between an angiolipoma and a spindle cell lipoma?

Angiolipomas are growths that contain both fatty tissue and blood vessels. Spindle cell lipomas contain only fatty tissue.

Angiolipomas are often painful and grow in your forearms. Spindle cell lipomas usually aren’t painful and grow in your shoulder and neck. Angiolipomas are also more likely to develop in adults in their 20s, while spindle cell lipomas are more likely in their 40s or 50s.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Spindle cell lipomas are noncancerous, fatty lumps of tissue that grow underneath your skin. They’re most common in men and adults AMAB ages 40 to 60. Spindle cell lipomas aren’t dangerous. But if the growth is getting larger or causing discomfort, you may choose to remove it. Healthcare providers use simple surgery to remove lipomas. You can usually return home the same day as the lipoma removal. Lipomas typically don’t grow back.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/20/2022.

References

  • Cancer Research UK. Lipoma. (https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/other-conditions/lipoma) Accessed 10/20/2022.
  • DermNet NZ. Spindle cell lipoma pathology. (https://dermnetnz.org/topics/spindle-cell-lipoma-pathology) Accessed 10/20/2022.
  • Machol JA, Cusic JG, O’Connor EA, Sanger JR, Matloub HS. Spindle Cell Lipoma of the Neck: Review of the Literature and Case Report. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4727702/) Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2015 Nov; 3(11): e550. Accessed 10/20/2022.
  • OrthoInfo. Lipoma. (https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/lipoma) Accessed 10/20/2022.
  • Seo BF, Kang IS, Oh DY. Spindle Cell Lipoma: A Rare, Misunderstood Entity. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5556811/) Arch Craniofac Surg. 2014 Aug; 15(2): 102-104. Accessed 10/20/2022.

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