A MAN who has lived with a huge lump hanging from his neck “like a testicle” for two decades has finally had it removed.
John, 51, from Marshall, Illinois, said he first noticed a bump while shaving shortly after he married his wife 19 years ago.
Since then it’s grown gradually larger and is now the size of a squishy tennis-ball which dangles from the bottom of his chin to his throat.
The granddad-of-one said the lump had got so big he had to sleep sitting up because he feared it would block off his airway in the night.
Appearing on tonight’s episode of Dr Pimple Popper, John demonstrates how he sleeps on the sofa each night with his head propped up.
“I can feel it where it just lays flat on my windpipe – it feels like the bump is cutting off my airway,” he says.
John said he previously went to see a doctor about the growth but was told that it would be a high-risk operation and was put off removing it.
“He told me they could cut the wrong vessel and I could be possibly be paralysed on one side of my face,” he said.
“That kind of scared me away, so I just let it go.”
John said his wife and children have been supportive, but admitted some people haven’t been so kind.
“My extended family, I don’t see eye-to-eye with them,” he says.
“I get tired of being made fun of. They’ve said it ‘looks like your nuts are hanging off your chin’.”
Determined to take back control of his life, he booked in to see dermatological surgeon Dr Sandra Lee, aka Dr Pimple Popper.
“I’ve got to get this off me so I can get my life back,” he said.
“I don’t trust the Midwest doctors. This is it, I’m not having another doctor touch me.”
Outside in her Covid-adapted waiting room, Dr Lee gets straight down to business, checking out John’s neck lump.
“This is quite a little handful there,” Dr Lee says, squeezing John’s neck bulge.
Straight away, Dr Lee thinks she might know what the problem is.
She explains: “John has what I believe is a large lipoma right in the middle of his neck, and there are a lot of important vessels that go to our head and back to our heart, like your jugular.
“There are many ways that you could really threaten somebody’s life with a little slip of the scalpel.”
What is a lipoma?
A lipoma is a benign, fatty lump that grows under the skin.
They’re harmless and can usually be left alone if they’re small and painless.
They are non-cancerous and are caused by an overgrowth of fat cells.
Lipomas can grow anywhere on the body, but are most common on the shoulders, neck, chest, arms, back, bum and thighs.
They grow very slowly and don’t usually cause any problems.
Lipomas don’t usually need to be removed unless they’re causing problems, such as pain, or if there’s uncertainty about whether it’s a lipoma.
However it can be removed if it is large or is in an obvious place and is affecting your self-esteem.
You should always see your GP if you develop a growth or swelling on your body.
Dr Lee decides to press ahead and prepares her operating theatre.
However, things take an unexpected turn when John admits he’s able to manipulate the lump by tensing his jaw.
Worried that the lipoma could be underneath a muscle – an area that Dr Lee does not clinically deal with – she consults John’s CT scan and attempts to get in touch with his radiologist.
But unable to get hold of John’s radiologist, Dr Lee tells John she won’t be able to operate on him until she is comfortable that the lipoma isn’t trapped beneath the muscle.
John said: “Yeah it kind of makes you a little depressed, but you know what, I’m going to trust her.”
Returning to the clinic a few days later, an anxious John awaits the verdict from Dr Lee.
“The radiologist was nice enough to go in and look at the CT scan that you had,” Dr Lee says.
“He did think that it is under the platysma muscle. I don’t remove anything under the muscle.
“But, the platysma is very superficial, I’m willing to give it a try in the safest way possible.”
Happy to put his trust in Dr Lee, it’s back to the operating room, where John’s neck is numbed with local anaesthetic.
“This is the golden moment, so to speak,” Dr Lee says, making her incision into the front of John’s neck.
“I think I see something underneath there, I hope I see something,” she continues, gently prodding around under John’s neck skin.
Getting sight of the lipoma, Dr Lee starts to slowly remove it.
She says: “John’s lipoma is visible such under the surface, which is a great relief.
“I just don’t know how deep this is going and I don’t know what it’s attached to.”
Frustratingly, the lipoma isn’t going without a fight, so as not to disturb the important vessel in John’s neck, Dr Lee opts to remove the lipoma piece by piece, snipping away at the fatty orange tissue.
Like something out of a sci-fi film, Dr Lee wrestles with the stubborn mass, trying to tease it out.
She says: “I’m trying to remove John’s lipoma, but the bottom part is still stuck to something deeper, so every time I snip a little bit of it, the part that I don’t snip off gets pulled back in.
“If I can’t get all of this out, John is still going to be left with some kind of bump.”
But Dr Lee’s perseverance pays off, as she removes the last of the lipoma.
Closing up John’s neck wound, Dr Lee then hands him a mirror so he can look at himself, lump-free after two decades.
“Hot damn, I look damn good now,” he says.
“It’s flat, it’s not this circle, it’s not this bulge, it’s not hanging down, it’s gone.
“I’ll be going more places, we’ll be doing more things as a family.
!I came here today thinking that this was never going to happen and she found it, it was hiding.”
- Dr Pimple Popper airs at 10pm on Thursdays exclusively on TLC, and stream on discovery+