Fat Necrosis and Oil Cysts in the Breast Benign Conditions


Fat necrosis and oil cysts are different, though they are both the result of damage to the fatty tissue. As the tissue breaks down, it can harden into scar tissue or retain a more liquid composition. Fat necrosis is a noncancerous lump in the breast that develops from dead or damaged breast tissue.

Can mimic carcinoma both clinically and mammographically and is commonly seen in patients who have had a previous surgical biopsy or other trauma to the breast. The lower leg is the most common location and is affected in more than 90% of cases. Subcutaneous fat elsewhere may also be affected, except rarely onions and gout on the head and neck. The number of lesions is usually fewer than 10 but may reach the hundreds. In most patients, the lesions involute, leaving an atrophic scar. If the fat necrosis is severe, however, the lesion develops into a sterile abscess that may break down, draining a thick, brown, oily material.

This enzymatic action results in calcium deposits that are seen in breast fat necrosis. However, the good news is that fat necrosis is completely harmless and it does not increase the risk of future breast cancer development in any way. It is not related to cancer at all, but is rather the result of a disruption of oxygen supply to fat cells. Palpable areas of fat necrosis may enlarge, remain unchanged, regress, or resolve. It usually does not necessitate any surgical treatment, and clinical follow-up is sufficient in the patient population in which pain is not present, and cosmesis is not the primary concern. However, if fat necrosis is confirmed, and it does not resolve and/or it causes pain or distortion in the breast shape, surgical removal is an option.

Therefore, all these symptoms require a differential diagnosis to rule out the possibility of breast cancer. After feeling the lump, Nancy immediately scheduled an appointment with her doctor to get it checked out. After taking a biopsy of Nancy’s breast, her doctor gave her good news, it was not cancer.

The onset of fat necrosis can be considerably delayed, occurring 10 years or more after surgery 2. Fat necrosis is a complication when an area of fatty tissue is damaged and forms into a firm lump. It can be a complication post breast reconstruction using autologous tissue , breast reduction, fat grafting, radiation or trauma.