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Surgeons operate on man with 10-stone testicles

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith

24th June 2013 - A man whose scrotum became so swollen that he was left virtually housebound has undergone surgery to reverse the condition.

Surgeons removed 132.5 lbs of tissue from Wesley Warren Jr, known as Warren, who had described his life as a living, breathing freak show.

Warren, 49, from Las Vegas in the US, was diagnosed with the extremely rare condition, known as scrotal lymphoedema, which leads to excessive swelling around the testicles.

His five year ordeal, and the 13 hour operation to remove his enormous scrotum, is the subject of a TV documentary on Channel 4. It details how, before the complex surgery, Warren could not wear trousers and had to resort to putting his legs through the arms of a large hoodie before zipping the clothing up over his testicles and tying the drawstrings beneath.

He was unable to urinate normally and could only sit down with a milk crate between his legs.

Read about scrotal lymphoedema with our FAQs.

What is scrotal lymphoedema?

Scrotal lymphedema, sometimes known as scrotal elephantiasis, is a disease caused when the lymphatic vessels draining fluid from the scrotum become blocked or obstructed. This causes the tissue to swell.

There are two main types of lymphoedema:

  • Primary lymphoedema - which develops at birth or shortly after puberty
  • Secondary lymphoedema - caused by damage to the lymphatic system

How common is lymphoedema?

It is estimated that 1 in 10,000 people are affected by primary lymphoedema.

Secondary lymphoedema is a relatively common condition, affecting an estimated 100,000 people in the UK.

However, scrotal lymphoedema is a very rare condition because most cases of lymphoedema affect the arms or legs. Swelling in the head, chest or genitals is much rarer.

What are the symptoms of scrotal lymphoedema?

The scrotal skin becomes thickened and may become ulcerated in severe cases.

The scrotum swells and may become very large. The case of a 39 year old man, described in the journal Eplasty, details how he sought medical advice when his scrotum extended to his knees.

What causes scrotal lymphoedema?

Primary lymphoedema is caused by faulty genes; secondary lymphoedema is caused by damage to the lymphatic system as a result of an infection, cancer or its treatment, other trauma, inflammation, immobility or diseased veins.

How is lymphoedema treated?

There is no cure for lymphoedema, but the NHS says it is possible to control the symptoms using a combination of different techniques, such as massage and compression garments.

There are also things you can do to help prevent the condition getting worse. This includes taking care of your skin to avoid infection and having a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Patients who have developed scrotal lymphoedema may, in extreme cases, benefit from reconstructive surgery.

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