You'll Never Look at Chicken the Same Way After Dr. Pimple Popper

Feel-good television has never been as nauseating as Dr. Pimple Popper, a one-hour special that aired last night on TLC. The show followed Dr. Sandra Lee, a California-based dermatologist who has made (another) name for herself via a series of online videos that feature her extracting various pusses and fluids from her patients’ bodies. In Dr. Pimple Popper’s office, per the TLC special, she displays a plaque congratulating her for 1 million YouTube subscribers; she now has over three times that amount.


Dr. Pimple Popper was something like E!’s Botched meets David Cronenberg meets aaaah...release. Lee met with four patients who were waiting to expel: Angelina, who had a softball-sized lump under her left breast for six years; Delano, who was carrying almost a liter of fluid on his upper back in a series of two humps; Carla, a woman prone to quoting DJ Tanner (“Oh, Mylanta!”) who had five pilar cysts on the back of her head that she referred to as “my aliens” (the oldest dated back 35 years); and Brenda, whose lipoma just above her left eye gave her anxiety attacks. Dr. Lee fixed them all up real nice in gory detail, her minor surgeries sometimes set to jaunty, almost mockingly lighthearted music. The overall effect of the show was so woozy it made me feel lightheaded a few times.

You might think no personality could be a match for oozing pus, but Dr. Lee’s eccentricity could not be out shined by a mountain of pale beige discharge with the consistency of cottage cheese. “It looks like a little rubber ducky!” she cooed as she extracted Carla’s 35-year-old cyst she had dubbed Big Bertha (Big Bertha’s pronouns, in case you’re curious, were apparently “he” and “him”). “It’s cute...they’re all cute!” she told Carla as the procedure continued. “See if I can pull your little friend out here…this is like your second baby,” she told Brenda.

Given the evidence presented, it’s hard to say if Dr. Lee is a better doctor or entertainer—she’s certainly always shown being successful in her surgical endeavors (and she apparently makes people feel good, like a doctor should) while having a knack for pushing things over-the-top with a slight turn of phrase (like describing Delano’s fluid as being “straw-colored”). If you told me 10 years ago that the perfect medium for displaying one person’s many talents would be cyst-extraction videos, I would not have believed you. And yet, here we are.

And since we are here, you do want to see an extraction, right?

And here is the aftermath of Carla’s surgery, in which she examines her detached aliens and has a little bit of squishy fun with them:

She is entertained; this is entertainment. While squeezing the pus out of one of her cysts, Carla giggles, “That is awesome...oh my gosh!” We should all be so proud as Carla is about what her body created and as Dr. Sandra Lee is about the fame she is fostering.

Some Pig. Terrific. Radiant. Humble.


Joey Michaels

My wife discovered these videos and since that day we’ve spent many happy nights going down Dr. Pimple Popper rabbit holes, cringing and laughing and generally marveling at her videos and her presentation. I have this theory that she, like me, loves popping bubble wrap and decided this was as close as she could get to doing that for a living. Follow your bliss, people, even if your bliss is popping ginormous cysts.