Are This Man's Mysterious Bumps Dangerous?

Shawn first noticed bumps appearing under his skin when he was a high-school sophomore, almost 25 years ago. Now he has them everywhere – some soft, some hard. They get irritated and sore, and no doctor has been able to diagnose his problem.

“I’ve become self-conscious with these bumps. It makes me feel uncomfortable,” he says. “I don’t want them to grow and I don’t want them to spread.” He’s worried that the bumps might spread to his face.

Shawn has seen multiple doctors, who’ve told him the bumps are cysts or calcium deposits, but no one has relieved the condition. “One of the extreme recommendations was to have them removed surgically, one at a time.”

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Shawn gave up on finding answers years ago. Hope, his wife of nine years, wrote to The Doctors on his behalf without telling him. They’re both worried that the bumps might be cancerous, or even parasites of some kind.

Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra says, “When I first looked at Shawn, I thought this could be as simple as just a benign lipoma. But it could be a parathyroid disease, where calcium is depositing, which is really dangerous.” She ordered an imaging study, a CT scan, as well as blood tests and a biopsy of one of the lumps.

ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork asks, “How did you come down to your diagnosis?” Dr. Batra explains that the key to the mystery was the CT scan. “Fortunately, right off the bat with the imaging study, there was no sign of calcification.” Blood tests confirmed that his calcium and phosphate levels were completely normal, and so was his kidney function.

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“As soon as we did the biopsy, we could see right then and there that they were lipomas,” she concludes, “which is just really benign growths of fatty tissue.” Because these are so much less dangerous than the cysts or calcium deposits other doctors had diagnosed, Shawn has a choice of three treatment options: small “keyhole” incisions under local anesthetic, liposuction, or a new injection that has been shown to dissolve fat.

Or he could do nothing! Dr. Batra adds, “But really, he doesn’t have to have them treated. They’re completely benign if he opts to live with them, as well.” Now that the mystery is solved, Shawn has power over his treatment.

But Shawn’s story isn’t over! “We’re also going to send Shawn to Dr. Henry Ozog at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. He’s agreed to evaluate Shawn’s case based on Dr. Batra’s findings and develop an appropriate treatment plan,” announces ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork.