Editor’s note: This post contains graphic images of dermatological conditions and the procedures used to treat them.
- On this week’s episode of “Dr. Pimple Popper,” Dr. Sandra Lee treated a man named Paul Duke who had a hump growing on the back of his neck for about 10 years.
- Duke said he’d had a knot in his neck since he was a teen, but it got bigger when he began taking steroids to deal with sciatic nerve pain.
- To remove the hump, which Lee called the “messiest” she’d ever seen, she sliced it open and removed the fat deposits that made it so large.
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In this week’s installment of “Dr. Pimple Popper,” the dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee treated what she called the “messiest” lipoma she’d ever seen.
A lipoma is a fat-filled lump that grows slowly in the area between a person’s muscles and skin. While these bumps aren’t cancerous, they do feel tender and may be painful for some people, according to the Mayo Clinic. If that’s the case, lipomas can be removed with surgery.
The lipoma Lee removed had been growing on the neck of a man named Paul Duke for 10 years. In the episode, Duke, 51, from Waller, Texas, said the growth started as a small knot on his neck when he was about 15 years old.
But Duke said that about 10 years ago, he started to experience pain because something was wrong with his sciatic nerve, the nerve that runs down a person’s neck and into their legs. He said that doctors prescribed a course of steroids, which he took for two weeks at a time, on and off, for a year.
When Duke started the steroids, he noticed his hump starting to get bigger and bigger, he said. About four years ago the hump was the size of a softball, Duke said, but by the time he was filming the episode it had grown to the size of three softballs.
Duke said that when he asked his doctors about the growing lump, they ignored the problem and “said it was nothing.”
Duke eventually went off the steroids, and his sciatica went away, but the large hump remained and concerned him because it limited his range of motion and became the brunt of jokes among his friends and strangers.
“You almost want to crawl under a rock,” he said. “You almost want to give up.”
Instead, he visited Dr. Pimple Popper.
Duke’s lump made it difficult for him to move his neck and head
Duke said people called him “the Hunchback of Notre Dame” because of his hump. Even more worrisome, the growth put his and others’ safety at risk.
Duke, an RV delivery man who drives large vehicles for a living, said his hump made it impossible to turn his head and neck to check his blind spot when switching lanes, so he had to turn his entire body – and in doing so had almost hit cars in front of him.
Luckily, Lee was able to treat Duke’s hump and fix this problem.
Lee said steroid injections likely didn’t cause Duke’s hump, but she had to operate to be sure
At Lee’s office, Duke explained his theory about why the lump grew so large: that it was because of the steroids he took.
Growths called “buffalo humps” are common in people who take steroids for medication, according to the Johns Hopkins Vasculitis Center. That’s because steroids often lead to the redistribution of body fat to a person’s head or neck. When that fat accumulates, it can lead to a humplike appearance.
Lee said that while that could be the case, she also had a feeling that his growth might actually be a lipoma but would have to cut it open to be sure.
Lee’s suspicions were correct. Once she numbed Duke’s neck area, she cut open his hump and found it was filled with fat, signaling that it was a lipoma, not a buffalo hump.
Lee said that to remove all the fat, she had to “massage it out,” comparing the appearance of the fat to pizza cheese. There was so much fat in the growth that Lee said it was the messiest lipoma she’d ever treated.
Once she took all the “cheese” out of Duke’s neck hump, Lee was able to stitch the incision up so that all it left was a “smile-shaped scar,” as Duke put it.
Following the procedure, Duke regained full mobility of his neck and said the change would allow him to be safer at work.
You can watch previous episodes of the “Dr. Pimple Popper” series on the app and TLC’s website. New episodes of “Dr. Pimple Popper” air every Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on TLC.
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