‘Dr. Pimple Popper’ dishes on popping success: ‘It actually makes people happy’

Dr. Sandra Lee, better known to her “Pop-a-holic” fan base as “Dr. Pimple Popper,” knows that popping pimples brings a certain satisfaction to some people, she just never realized how many. With more than  5 million subscribers on YouTube and millions more watching her on TLC, Lee has both entranced and grossed out viewers with her knack for popping.

“I know that people get a sense of satisfaction with it – it actually makes people happy,” she told Fox News. “It makes them content – people with anxiety, people who can’t sleep at night, it puts them to sleep, it’s just like, you’re getting rid of something that should not be there and when it comes out beautifully it’s like a love story or something – you know? It’s like a feeling of satisfaction.”

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Her fans agree, but just as many others tune into her show to find out how a patient’s pimple, cyst, or other oddly-shaped growth got there, and of course if it can happen to them.

“Unfortunately -- and fortunately I guess -- they keep outdoing themselves, something always new comes up,” she said. “That’s part of it – part of the excitement but also part of the stress that’s related to it. I had one guy from the TV show who has like an extra arm hanging off him – essentially it was like another appendage, and it’s just because he had this lipoma that just kept growing and it got traumatized on the end.”

Lee said she gets the most enjoyment out of working with patients with extreme cases whose lives are transformed after leaving her office. One of her early videos featured a patient dubbed “Pops,” who had severe bad blackheads but a tragic story about how he lost his wife and didn’t have enough money to keep his house. Once her followers heard about him, they started a GoFundMe page to help him out.

“That’s when I was really like, 'OK this is a thing,’” said Lee, who has launched her own skincare company, SLMD Skincare. “They don’t even know who he is and they’re giving him money because they care about him and his blackheads – that’s crazy.”

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But Lee has been working in this field long enough to know she should always be prepared for the unexpected, and dressed for the worst.

“I pretty much wear splash guards all the time, because it’s those times that you don’t wear them that you get in trouble,” she said, adding that she has gotten splashed with pus and other bodily fluids before and it’s “just part of work.”

“When it gets on your arm and in you’re in the middle of surgery and you can’t become unsterile you feel like it’s like acid on you – you feel it,” she said, adding that sometimes when you watch the show you can see her and her staff lean away from the patient as she’s getting ready to pop.

“I mean, we’ve had it shoot on the walls, that kind of thing. It’s not like it happens all the time because I try to not have that happen,” she said.

And while viewers at home might be shocked or stumped by some really unique cases, like the woman who had what looked like a horn growing out of her head for years, Lee said for her it’s more about wondering how a patient could’ve been living like that.

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“I get that question all the time on social media, ‘Why do people wait so long,’ but it’s really not their fault,” she said. “There’s a combination of reasons why this happens, and sure you can see it on the outside so you wonder why didn’t they take care of it – but there [are] lots of people that wait a long time to take care of internal things that could be life-threatening and they kind of push it aside you know, all for the same sort of reasons.”