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Medical mystery: ‘The man with the 132-pound scrotum’

scrotum

Wesley Warren wore a zip-up hoodie on his bottom half because he couldn’t fit into pants with his enlarged scrotum. (Photo courtesy of TLC)

(CNN) — Imagine carrying a bowling ball between your legs that weighs close to 200 pounds. If that image is too much to stomach, continue reading with caution.

Wesley Warren, 49, spent more than four years with this extra burden before having surgery to repair the damage from a rare medical condition called scrotal lymphedema.

When doctors placed the swollen mass they had cut from Warren’s scrotum on the scale, it weighed 132 pounds. That’s not counting the fluid or smaller pieces of tissue the surgeons had also removed from the Las Vegas man.

“There are a lot of people that will look and laugh and stare in shock and awe and amazement,” Warren says as he walks down the street in a preview for TLC’s upcoming show “The Man with the 132-Pound Scrotum.” The one-hour special airs Monday at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

“It’s tough to deal with it, you know, because essentially, this is a sort of living and breathing freak show.”

It began in 2008, Warren told TLC, when he awoke to a shooting pain in his testicles. The tissue around his penis soon began to swell, eventually growing at an estimated rate of 3 pounds per month.

One doctor told Warren that it might be necessary to castrate him to fix the problem; others told him that he would probably die on the operating table. And the cost of the surgery alone would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. After Warren appeared on the Howard Stern radio show, appealing for help, a fellow scrotal lymphedema sufferer referred him to Dr. Joel Gelman, who offered to do the surgery for free.

Gelman, director of the Center for Reconstructive Urology at the University of California-Irvine, specializes in urethral and penile reconstruction surgery.

Although the headline of TLC’s special is catchy, scrotal lymphedema is a very real condition, Gelman said. He hopes media attention surrounding the show will encourage other men with the problem to seek treatment.

Scrotal lymphedema, also known as scrotal elephantiasis, is a “massive enlargement” of the scrotum due to thickening of tissue and accumulation of fluid, Gelman said, adding that he believes Warren had an injury or trauma to his scrotum that led to the growth.

Warren is walking again and enjoying life, Gelman said. He’ll need a follow-up surgery to remove some additional skin that was damaged by his condition.

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