Skip to content

Fitness & Exercise

Doctors Say Oil Injections Lead to Painful Cysts

Font Size
WebMD Health News

March 1, 2000 (Atlanta) -- Friends at the gym shouldn't let friends at the gym give bodybuilding advice, experts say. Athletes and bodybuilders should heed the advice of health care and sports medicine professionals, rather than that of their buddies at the gym. That's because listening to friends is how they learn about injecting oils and steroids into their muscles in order to look more muscular.

And injecting oil into muscles is not such a good idea, according to German researchers who've published an article in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. They conclude that bodybuilders who inject plant and mineral oils to enhance their appearance can develop painful cysts. Unfortunately for those looking for a quick fitness fix, weight training is the only safe way to increase muscle size and strength, sports medicine specialists tell WebMD.

In the case studied, a 48-year-old bodybuilder developed painful lumps in his chest muscles after injecting the area with more than one and a half quarts of sesame seed oil over three months. Diagnostic tests revealed several areas containing cysts filled with a white, oily fluid. The tests also revealed dead tissue and calcium deposits under his skin.

Although the man claimed to have injected the oil without additives, sesame seed oil is used as a way to deliver anabolic steroids, the researchers say. In fact, the patient reported abusing injectable anabolic steroids over a two-year period, nine months before he discovered the painful lumps.

But with or without steroids, the authors say injecting plant oil is not healthy. "Self-injecting oil into muscle or fat has some serious risks, both short-term and long-term," Wolf-Ingo Worret, MD, a co-author and professor of dermatology at Technical University Munich, tells WebMD. The oily deposits can break through the skin, and the inflammation can cause scarring and, years later, connective tissue diseases such as scleroderma, or a thickening and hardening of the skin, he says.

Sports medicine specialists say circuit weight training offers the advantage of building muscle strength as well as muscle mass. "If an athlete wants to increase muscle size, a certified trainer can develop a customized weight training program that's both safe and effective," says Lewis Maharam, MD, the president of the New York chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Healthy Living Tools

Ditch Those Inches

Set goals, tally calorie intake, track workouts and more, all via WebMD’s free Food & Fitness Planner.

Get Started

Today on WebMD

pilates instructor
15 moves that get results.
woman stretching before exercise
How and when to do it.
couple working out
Moves you can do at home.
woman exercising
Strengthen your core with these moves.
man exercising
7 most effective exercises
Man looking at watch before workout
Overweight man sitting on park bench

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

pilates instructor
jogger running among flowering plants
woman walking
Taylor Lautner