What is Fat Necrosis,Treatment and Prevention

The word necrosis is used in reference to the “death of bodily tissue” and comes from the Greek word “nekrosis”. In modern medical terminology, fat necrosis can be observed when fat cells are destroyed inside the human body. In this article, we will go over some common scenarios that may cause fat necrosis, a few treatment options and alternative to prevent this condition.

Fat necrosis is a condition generally associated with trauma of the pancreas and cases of pancreatitis. It may also occur after surgery, during radiation therapy sessions and due to excessive amounts of physical stress. In some cases it may also occur in the breasts after an injury playing sports, after a car accident or after a mastectomy.

Many cases of fat necrosis in the breast may feel like a lump from the outside and it may be mistaken for breast cancer. Although fat necrosis is generally benign and it does not lead to cancer, in some cases it may be a symptom of an underlying health issue. Because of this, it is important to visit the doctor in order to make sure it is not a case of cancer being mistaken for something else and that there are no hidden health problems that need to be addressed.


In some instances, patients who have had a mastectomy as a consequence of breast cancer may develop fat necrosis. The following question from user “DL” is an example (see full thread here):

I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in March 2007. I had to do a mastectomy as the lump was under the nipple and as the nipple could not be spared, a mastectomy was recommended.  Subsequently found that it was DCIS though my 16 lymph nodes were removed during surgery. The Mass was 6cms. Radiation and Tamoxifen was recommended… About a month ago discovered a hardened, painful lump within the radiated section near the epi-gastric area. This was ultrasounded and a CT Scan and Fine Needle Biopsy done. Found to be benign and was advised this was “Fat Necrosis.


Treatment of Fat Necrosis:

In a case of fat necrosis, it is very important to visit the doctor so he can determine the appropriate course of action. The doctor will make sure there are no underlying health issues that may be causing the fat necrosis to occur as a symptom of something else.

Before visiting the doctor´s office, review the recent weeks and months in order to make notes related to any trauma or injury suffered recently. Pay special attention to any sport related injuries or car accidents. Also, make sure to let your physician know of any recent surgeries you may have had.

There are different types of treatment according to the severity of each case and the level of discomfort they cause the patient. In a majority of cases, doctors may prescribe diuretics to remove calcium from the body. In some cases, doctors may also opt to remove the unwanted mass using needle aspiration. However, there are times when surgery may be required in order to remove the issue. Nonetheless, in many cases this uncomfortable health condition will go away with time and it does not pose a serious health risk to the human body.

If there are no serious underlying health issues causing the fat necrosis episode, you may use a warm compress to ease any discomfort caused by this condition. Additionally, your doctor may prescribe anti inflammatory medications to reduce the pain and swelling often associated with this health issue.

Fat necrosis may also be observed in the fat around the kidney, and this is an indication of kidney disease. In these cases, the doctor will perform a series of tests to monitor kidney function and asses the severity of the situation, as well as the appropriate course of action.

Prevention of Fat Necrosis:

In the case of trauma induced fat necrosis, it is advisable to visit the doctor for regular checkups in case there are any lumps or discomfort. Recognizing the early symptoms of a condition is also one of the best ways to prevent further complications.

Some of the symptoms associated with Fat Necrosis in the breasts include: a lump on the breast, which may be confused with breast cancer in some cases. Therefore, to rule out any chances of confusion, it is highly advisable to visit the doctor. Some other symptoms of fat necrosis in the breast may include: breast pain or discomfort, abnormal nipple discharge, redness around the breast lump, among others. As an additional note, one factor that has also been associated with the occurrence of fat necrosis is the breast size. In general, patients with large breasts have a higher risk of developing this condition than those with smaller breasts.

Additionally, make sure to have a healthy lifestyle in order to avoid any weight issues or metabolic disorders. As mentioned before, there are chronic diseases such as pancreatitis which may lead to instances of fat necrosis.

In summary, the term fat necrosis is used when fat cells are destroyed inside the human body. In most cases fat necrosis may go away with time, but it may also be a symptom of underlying health issues and because of this, a visit to the doctor is highly advisable in order to rule out any other complications.

When it comes to keeping our bodies healthy, there are many different ways to reduce the possibilities of suffering health issues that may be preventable. However, staying informed about common ailments and paying regular visits to the doctor, is still one of the best ways to manage the risks associated with getting older.

Do you know of anyone who had fat necrosis or have you experienced it yourself? Do you have any questions related to this health condition? We would like to hear your experiences and questions. You may share them using the comments box available at the end of this page.

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This is guest article by Lyn Ashby, a passionate food lover who enjoys learning about nutrition, health and dieting continuously in order to improve her life and the life of those around her. To read more about some of her latest findings, you may visit her blog here. If you would like to submit guest post at HealthResource4u, check our submission guidelines.


  1. avatarJ Priest says

    I had a tummy tuck 6 months ago and developed Fat necrosis to the extreme, one mass is approx 14 cm long, 4.5cm x 4 cm in width and depth with a couple of sml rounded ones each side of this large mass. What can be done about this uncomfortable mass ?

  2. avatarAli says

    Hi after a breast examination & being told it was cancer. I had a biopsy which showed it not to be cancer but fat necrosis.
    Does anyone know if this can be causes by taking calcichew

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