Pardon our appearance while we renovate our website. The process may take up to a month and we respectfully request that any papers be submitted after that date. We will post a notice when the site is reopened. The Editorial staff at ePlasty thanks you for your patience and support.
Terms of use | Privacy Policy Home | Contact Us

<< Back
Print E-mail
ePlasty: Vol. 15
Submuscular Lipoma of the Forehead
Sara K Neches, BS, Alexis L. Parcells, MD, Adam M. Feintisch, MD, and Mark S. Granick, MD

Division of Plastic Surgery, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark

Correspondence: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Keywords: forehead lipoma, submuscular lipoma, forehead mass, subfrontalis mass, submuscular forehead mass


A 35-year-old man presented with a 2-cm centrally located mass on his forehead. The mass appeared soft and mobile. It had been present for several years and was slow growing. The patient denied pain or numbness.


1. What is the differential diagnosis for forehead masses?

2. What important clinical features define forehead lipomas?

3. How are these lesions best managed?

4. What is the risk of malignant transformation?


Common forehead masses include dermoid cysts, hemangiomas, lipomas, epidermal inclusion cysts, and osteomas.1 Lipomas are the most common tumor of mesenchymal origin, and frontalis-associated lipomas are based on 4 subtypes: intramuscular, arising from within the frontalis muscle of the forehead; submuscular, between the frontalis and its deep investing fascia (galea); subgaleal, between the galea and the periosteum; and subperiosteal.2 These masses are most commonly found in men 40 to 70 years old. They often develop independent of trauma and have no genetic basis.2,3

Forehead lipomas are diagnosed clinically. Lipomas are slow-growing, singular masses rarely exceeding several centimeters in size. Patients are often asymptomatic and deny pain or tenderness over the lesion.2 Subcutaneous lipomas are soft and pliable, whereas subgaleal lipomas tend to be fixed and firm2,4 (Fig 1). These masses are easily distinguished from the taut, fluid-filled, epidermal inclusion cyst or hardened osteomas.2 Diagnostic modalities including ultrasonography, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging can further identify the lesion and its boundaries and aid in surgical planning.1

Figure 1. Submuscular forehead lipoma.

While these lesions may be managed by observation, the forehead is a cosmetically sensitive area and most patients elect for surgical excision. A minimally invasive endoscopic approach has been described for subcutaneous lipomas to reduce scarring, avoid injury to the supraorbital and supratrochlear neurovascular bundles, and reduce postoperative pain.5 For deeper frontalis-associated lipomas, direct en bloc resection is often required to successfully excise the tumor.2,4

Forehead lipomas are generally benign with no malignant potential, and excision is considered curative. However, liposarcoma must be differentiated from other benign mesenchymal tumors on the basis of histologic findings such as poorly defined margins or immature and polymorphic cells.6

Our patient underwent direct surgical excision. The skin was incised transversely through forehead rhytid and the dissection directed to the frontalis muscle (Fig 2), which was incised vertically to avoid neurovascular injury and identify the tumor fixed to the galea (Fig 3). Blunt dissection continued along the perimeter of the tumor to ensure complete resection (Fig 4). Pathology identified the mass as mature adipose tissue consistent with a subgaleal lipoma. To restore functional integrity of the muscle, a layered closure was performed. Any indentations or contour irregularities caused by the tumor naturally remodeled over time.

Figure 2. Lipoma exposed under the frontalis muscle.
Figure 3. Exposed lipoma after blunt dissection.
Figure 4. En bloc resection of the forehead lipoma.


1. Sewell LD, Adams DC, Marks VJ. Subcutaneous forehead nodules: attention to the button osteoma and frontalis-associated lipoma. Dermatol Surg. 2008;34:791-8.

2. Salasche SJ, McCollough ML, Angeloni VL, Grabski WJ. Frontalis-associated lipoma of the forehead. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1989;20:462-8.

3. Nitin GB, Sacchidanand S, Madura C. Frontalis-associated lipoma: a rare case report. Indian J Dermatol. 2014;59(1):96-8.

4. Zitelli JA. Subgaleal lipomas. Arch Dermatol. 1989;125:384-5.

5. Lee SY, Jung SN, Sohn WI, Kwon H, Yoo G. Submuscular fibrolipoma of the forehead. J Craniofac Surg. 2010;21(6):1993-4.

6. Cronin ED, Ruiz-Razura A, Livingston CK, Katzen JT. Endoscopic approach for the resection of forehead masses. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1999;105(7):2459-63.

Journal ID: ePlasty Volume: 15
ISSN: 1937-5719 E-location ID: ic17
Publisher: Open Science Company, LLC Published: March 24, 2015

Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Digg! yahoobuzz! StumbleUpon! Reddit! Technorati!! Mixx! Free and Open Source Software News Google! Live! Facebook! Yahoo! Joomla Free PHP