‘Dr. Pimple Popper’: Sandra Lee’s Gag Reflex Is Triggered With a Specific Toe-Related Case

Sandra Lee — who is better known as Dr. Pimple Popper — definitely has to have a stomach of iron to do her job well. She sees some of the grossest, most disturbing cases of dermatological oddities and has to help her patients find relief from these discomforts.

Most of the time, Dr. Pimple Popper can handle the task with professionalism and a steady hand that would be difficult for most of us to pull off. It turns out that even the most seasoned of dermatologists aren’t completely immune to a case that will gross them out, however. Lee opened up about the cases that still make her gag. 

Sandra Lee is a real doctor

RELATED: ‘Dr. Pimple Popper’: Sandra Lee Revealed How She Never Gets Grossed Out

With all the TV personalities out there in the world, it can be hard to tell who is legitimate and who is simply playing a role for the screens.

Sandra Lee is a board-certified dermatologist who graduated from medical school. In other words, she is the real deal. She is a member of the American Society for Dermatological Surgery and has presented her work at academic conferences as well as contributed to several clinical studies. 

So how did a dermatologist end up with her own television show where most viewers tune in to be grossed out? YouTube is actually the unlikely answer.

Beginning around 2010, Lee posted videos on her own YouTube channel featuring skin extractions. The informational videos didn’t become a real hit until five years later when viewers started sharing her work more broadly. This is how the moniker “Dr. Pimple Popper” came to be, and soon she was sharing her work across various social media platforms using that name. 

TLC approached Sandra Lee about a show

Sandra Lee
Sandra Lee | Jim Spellman/Getty Images

TLC has become a major force in the reality TV world. A part of the Discovery brand, TLC once stood for The Learning Channel, but when Discovery bought it in 1991, they added some more reality TV programming to the lineup.

At first, these shows still fit the brand’s educational focus, but in the mid-1990s, the addition of medical dramas changed the game. As Business Insider reports, shows like Trauma: Life in the E.R. demonstrated that fans had a thirst for real-life dramas. The channel also started adding DIY shows on home improvement.

In 1998, the entire channel rebranded to simply “TLC,” and the content underwent a rapid transformation. All the children’s programming moved elsewhere in the Discovery universe, and TLC increasingly became a place to find over-the-top dramas and up-close-and-personal looks at reality TV participants’ lives. 

All of this left the channel a perfect fit for Lee’s growing audience of pimple popping voyeurs. In 2018, she inked a deal with TLC that granted her a show of her own: Dr. Pimple Popper. The show is an extension of her popular social media videos, and it gives viewers a close look at some dermatological oddities as well as educating them on best practices for skin care. 

Sandra Lee tries to remain professional 

It’s important to Lee that she responds professionally no matter how gross the situation before her is. The star has been vocal about how she works hard to not exhibit any negative reaction to her patients and instructs her staff to respond neutrally as well.

For her, it’s about gaining her patients’ respect and trust, something crucial to being able to treat them well. 

“If something’s infected, it can smell bad, but I think I’ve conditioned myself not to do that because I’m so aware — and my staff knows this too, they know to never go ahhh oh my god. We never say anything. We try not to get excited because these people are coming in a very vulnerable state. You don’t want them to feel embarrassed about it,” Lee explained in an interview with Mashable

She goes on to admit that things don’t always work out the way that she hopes, especially when it comes to toenails: “I definitely have to suppress a little gag when I have to deal with somebody’s toes or toenail fungus. My husband is a dermatologist, and he removes toenails — I can’t do that, that’s too disgusting. It’s like, barbaric, it’s like, ugh.”