AUG 03, 2017 5:28 AM PDT

Diagnosed: Man Dies When Fat Injected into His Penis Traveled to His Lungs

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Image credit: Pixabay.com

A man hoping surgery would leave him better endowed than before tragically died from complications related to the procedure. The cause of death was fat blockages in his lungs, according to pathologists. The case highlights the dangers hidden in these types of elective surgeries, and reminds us to ask the most salient question of all: Are the rewards worth the deadly risks?

The patient was a healthy 30-year-old man who elected to have a penis enlargement surgery in Sweden. The procedure comprised of two parts. First, to make the penis appear longer when flaccid, surgeons snipped the suspensory ligament of the penis. Because this ligament holds the penis close to the pubic bone, cutting it would give the illusion of a lengthened male genitalia. Second, to increase the appearance of girth, surgeons injected fat into the penis. This second step is where things took a deadly turn.

It’s believed that some of the injected fat seeped into his bloodstream and entered his lungs. There, the fat droplets clogged the lung vessels and interfered with oxygen exchange. Unfortunately for the patient, the pulmonary fat embolism was fatal.

Dr. Lee Zhao, a urologist at the NYU Langone Health in New York City, who was not involved with the the case, questions precisely where the fat was injected in the man’s penis, as this could have made a difference.

"The penis works by filling erectile tissue with blood," Dr. Zhao said. "If the fat was injected into the erectile tissue, then the risk of fat embolism would be much higher." However, if the fat was injected just under the penis skin, the risks of the fat traveling to the venous system would be lower. It’s also possible that some fat unintentionally got into the erectile tissue even though it was meant for under the skin. Based on the case report, Dr. Zhao isn’t sure what happened.

Although Dr. Zhao notes that fatal cases such as these are “extremely rare,” he does make strong cautions against the procedure’s perceived benefits. Both steps of the penis enlargement procedure alter the organ’s appearance in its flaccid state. The procedures do not treat (nor do they claim to) any underlying conditions related to erectile or sexual dysfunction.

On the contrary, any improvements in the appearance of penis length and girth may come at the cost of sexual performance. There are consequences associated with snipping the suspensory ligament. As Dr. Zhao explains, “The ligament acts to allow the penis to aim forward, and cutting [it] can cause the penis [to] hang downwards.”

It’s also worth noting that penis enlargement isn’t the only type of procedure that can lead to pulmonary fat embolism. Using a person’s own fat to enhance or otherwise alter the appearance of another body part - known as autologous fat transfer - is quite popular in recent times. This type of augmentation procedure is also used to also enhance the appearance of the lips, face, breast, and buttocks.

Additional source: Live Science

About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
NOV 12, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Study Shows 1 in 5 COVID Tests Are False Positives
NOV 12, 2020
Study Shows 1 in 5 COVID Tests Are False Positives
  A study published in The BMJ has brought to light that the rapid finger-prick COVID-19 test may not be quite as r ...
DEC 22, 2020
Cardiology
A New 3D Imaging Method for Atherosclerosis Analysis in Mice
DEC 22, 2020
A New 3D Imaging Method for Atherosclerosis Analysis in Mice
Imaging in research may not sound glamorous, but how else would news stories get those cool looking science photos for t ...
DEC 24, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Feeling Unmotivated? It Could Be Dementia.
DEC 24, 2020
Feeling Unmotivated? It Could Be Dementia.
Apathy, characterized by a pronounced lack of enthusiasm, motivation, or interest, is a predictor of the future onset of ...
DEC 29, 2020
Cardiology
Does Physical Activity Help Reduce the Risk of Aneurysms?
DEC 29, 2020
Does Physical Activity Help Reduce the Risk of Aneurysms?
An active lifestyle is a proven way to prevent many types of cardiovascular diseases. The increased blood flow can preve ...
JAN 08, 2021
Neuroscience
Can We Identify Alzheimer's from Routine Eye Exams?
JAN 08, 2021
Can We Identify Alzheimer's from Routine Eye Exams?
As people with diabetes age, they are more likely than those without the condition to develop cognitive disorders such a ...
JAN 14, 2021
Cardiology
Cortisol in Your Hair Could Predict Your Risk of Heart Attack
JAN 14, 2021
Cortisol in Your Hair Could Predict Your Risk of Heart Attack
The everyday tracking of health has become far easier these days with the advent of fitness watches and other technology ...
Loading Comments...