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Leiomyoma Treatment & Management

  • Author: Kyle L Horner, MD, MS; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
Updated: Apr 21, 2014

Medical Care

Because all leiomyomas are tumors, medical management has a limited role in the resolution or destruction of these lesions. However, pharmacologic intervention may alleviate associated pain.

  • Several investigators report that calcium channel blockers, particularly nifedipine, relieves pain associated with many cases of piloleiomyomas.
    • As the name implies, drugs in this class inhibit the movement of extracellular calcium ions across the cell membrane into the smooth muscle cell, thereby inhibiting muscular contraction.
    • These data support the theory that muscle contraction is somehow responsible for pain in at least some tumors.
  • Phenoxybenzamine, an alpha-adrenoceptor blocker, is also reported to be helpful in alleviating pain,[20] including cold-induced pain, in some cases.
  • Gabapentin has also shown promise in alleviating pain from piloleiomyomas; however, larger randomized trials have not yet been conducted.[21, 22]
  • Two case reports describe botulinum toxin therapy for relief of pain associated with leiomyoma, although one suggested a possible placebo effect.[23, 24]


In a study of 1036 randomly selected premenopausal women (age range, 35-49 y), adequate plasma levels of vitamin D (>20 ng/mL) were associated with a reduced risk of uterine leiomyomas. Only 10% of the 620 black women and 50% of the 416 white women in the study had sufficient levels of vitamin D. Compared with women with vitamin D insufficiency, those with sufficient vitamin D had about 32% lower odds of uterine leiomyomas. This relationship was similar for black and white women. There was also an association between daily sun exposure for 1 hour or more and a reduced risk of developing uterine leiomyomas.[25]


Surgical Care

Surgical excision or ablation may be helpful for some symptomatic individuals.

  • Excision is frequently effective with a solitary leiomyoma.
  • Excision of multiple piloleiomyomas is more cosmetically problematic and less effective than excision of solitary leiomyomas. The recurrence of lesions is more common with multiple piloleiomyomas than with single lesions. After excision, subsequent recurrences have been reported to occur from 6 weeks to more than 15 years.[1] One case report described total excision of multiple leiomyomas followed by immediate artificial skin graft, with successful results.[26]
  • One report revealed promising results for pain relief with carbon dioxide laser ablation of several symptomatic leiomyomas over a follow-up of as long as 3-9 months. Only local anesthesia was required for this procedure.


Female patients with multiple leiomyomas should be referred to a gynecologist for evaluation.

  • Women who have multiple cutaneous piloleiomyomas may also have uterine leiomyomas. If the latter are present, the patient most likely has a familial condition called multiple MCUL.[13] This is also known as leiomyomatosis cutis et uteri, or Reed syndrome.
  • A disease variant involving aggressive renal cancer can also occur and is termed HLRCC.[13] Two family kindreds in Finland with uterine leiomyomas had the unusual association of unilateral papillary renal cell carcinoma. Interestingly, 7 members of 1 family had cutaneous nodules. Two of them underwent skin biopsy, which showed multiple cutaneous piloleiomyomas.
  • Reed syndrome is thought to be inherited as an autosomal-dominant trait with incomplete penetrance. As such, not all women in a family are affected, and those who are may have only cutaneous, only uterine, or both cutaneous and uterine leiomyomas.
Contributor Information and Disclosures

Kyle L Horner, MD, MS Physician, Grace Dermatology and Micrographic Surgery, Lebanon, OR

Kyle L Horner, MD, MS is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American College of Mohs Surgery

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Marion C Miethke, MD Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Dermatology, University of Washington

Marion C Miethke, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Phi Beta Kappa

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Gregory J Raugi, MD, PhD Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Dermatology, University of Washington at Seattle School of Medicine; Chief, Dermatology Section, Primary and Specialty Care Service, Veterans Administration Medical Center of Seattle

Gregory J Raugi, MD, PhD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Michael J Wells, MD, FAAD Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Paul L Foster School of Medicine

Michael J Wells, MD, FAAD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Dermatology, American Medical Association, Texas Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Rosalie Elenitsas, MD Herman Beerman Professor of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; Director, Penn Cutaneous Pathology Services, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Health System

Rosalie Elenitsas, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Medical Association, American Society of Dermatopathology, Pennsylvania Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Received royalty from Lippincott Williams Wilkins for textbook editor.

Chief Editor

William D James, MD Paul R Gross Professor of Dermatology, Vice-Chairman, Residency Program Director, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

William D James, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, Society for Investigative Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Carrie L Kovarik, MD Assistant Professor of Dermatology, Dermatopathology, and Infectious Diseases, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Carrie L Kovarik, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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These multiple hyperpigmented nodules are piloleiomyomas on an upper extremity.
Upon closer inspection, one can appreciate that these piloleiomyomas are superficial dermal nodules.
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