All Pets Veterinary Clinic
Lipomas are benign fatty tumors that are often present on older dogs.
Most lipomas are small and do not cause major problems. However, in some
cases these tumors can become so large that they cause discomfort for
the dog--especially if they are located in an armpit or thigh region.
Dogs that get one lipoma will often get others in different locations.
Additionally, they can reoccur after removal. Rarely, lipomas can be
malignant. This picture shows a large lipoma on the shoulder of a Golden
In this picture, a paper clip has been placed over the lipoma for scale.
This lipoma was between softball and volley ball sized and caused this dog
discomfort when she walked.
This picture shows the initial approach to the lipoma. The skin incision
is being made with a laser. (The red dot is the laser beam.) Laser surgery
results in less bleeding and less swelling after surgery.
This picture shows part of the lipoma emerging from the skin incision.
Many lipomas are directly under the skin. They can also be under muscle
fibers or between muscle planes. Location of the lipoma can dictate
the feel or firmness and mobility of the lipoma before surgery. This particular
lipoma sat directly on the scapula (shoulder blade) and below several muscle
layers. It weighed just over 2 pounds when it was fully removed.
Once the lipoma was removed, the free space where the tumor had resided, was
closed so that fluid would not accumulate. Additionally, a drain was placed
in the deepest part of the space the tumor had occupied. This is a picture
of the surgical site after removal of the lipoma and placement of the drain.
The drain was removed 4 days later and the stitches were removed after 14 days.
The dog made a full recovery.
It is best to remove lipomas when they are smaller and less involved than in
this case. The owners of this particular dog had just adopted her from a
shelter. Thus it is unknown how long this lipoma had been present.
Karen Blakeley, DVM, MPH
27 April 2006