The 30-year-old male was admitted to a private plastic surgery clinic in Stockholm for a penis enlargement procedure that involves removing fat from the abdomen through liposuction then injecting the fat into the base of the penis after a ligament has been loosened.
Towards the end of the surgery he developed tachycardia, hypoxia and hypotension, then eventually died due to a fatal fat embolism, according to the paper by Brita Zilg and Petra Råsten-Almqvist in the Journal of Forensic Sciences.
"Fat tissue has accidentally entered the venous blood stream, travelled to the right side of the heart and then to the lung circulation. The fat cells have clogged the arteries of the lung and caused circulatory collapse," Zilg told The Local.
This is the first known case where the seemingly safe procedure has caused sudden death in a healthy young man, the paper notes, but adds that the risk may be higher when pre-traumatized tissue is subjected to fat injection as in this instance.
"There is always a risk for fat embolism when you inject fat into tissue, the risk is larger when you inject large amounts of fat, for example when enlarging buttocks or breasts. The risk is small, but you should be aware of it. There are other risks for side effects, like infections, disfigurements, allergic reactions to anaesthesia and so on," Zilg explained.
“You should be aware of the risks, it is always a gamble,” she added.