Subcutaneous fat necrosis of the newborn: A systematic review of surgical management and outcomes

Eric Bao, Dillan F. Villavisanis, Taylor J. Ibelli, Lior Levy, Peter J. Taub

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Subcutaneous fat necrosis of the newborn (SCFN) is a rare form of panniculitis manifesting as erythematous plaques or nodules at sites of brown fat in neonates. Surgical management may be indicated in severe cases; however, there is a paucity of literature compiling presentations and outcomes of these surgical patients. Methods: The authors performed a systematic review, in consultation with a licensed librarian, on MEDLINE and Embase for studies including patients with SCFN who were surgically managed. Results: The search strategy generated 705 results, among which 213 (30.2%) were excluded for lack of discussion on surgical management. Twenty-two studies discussed surgical management of SCFN in 26 patients, but in 6 of these studies the patients were not surgically managed. Ultimately, 16 articles with 16 patients who were surgically managed were included in the study. Average age at diagnosis was 11.8 ± 9.8 days; average age at surgery was 39.5 ± 70.4 days. The most common etiologies were “unknown” (6, 37.5%), therapeutic hypothermia (4, 25.0%), and birth complications (4, 25.0%). Patients harbored nodules on the back (14, 87.5%), upper extremities (7, 43.8%), lower extremities (7, 43.8%), buttocks (5, 31.3%), and head or neck (3, 18.8%). Linear regression models revealed the presence of back lesions and predicted concomitant medical complications (β = 2.71, p = 0.021). Conclusions: Patients undergoing surgical management for SCFN most commonly harbor lesions on the back and extremities that are secondary to therapeutic hypothermia or of unknown origin. Reporting of additional cases is needed to further elucidate surgical management and outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-301
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • Neonate
  • Pediatric plastic surgery
  • Subcutaneous fat necrosis
  • Surgical management


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