‘Dr. Pimple Popper’: Why Sandra Lee Doesn’t Want To See Anyone Else’s Popping Videos

Most social media stars are well-known for their home decor DIY projects, outrageous stunts, almost-too-pretty-to-eat food photos, or their beauty tutorials.  Sandra Lee, better known as Dr. Pimple Popper on the TLC show of the same name, is a different kind of social media star.

The Southern California-based dermatologist pops people’s growths — think blackheads, pimples, cysts, and even cancerous X — on camera. “Popaholics” all over the world can’t seem to get enough of the oddly satisfying extractions, but Dr. Lee herself has no interest in watching anyone’s pimple-popping videos. In fact, she finds them disgusting.

Becoming the real-life Dr. Pimple Popper

Dr. Sandra Lee smiling holding a microphone
Dr. Sandra Lee | Jim Spellman/Getty Images

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Dr. Popper — err, Dr. Lee — was a dermatologist long before she found internet fame. Her father was also a dermatologist, so she grew up frequently visiting his office. In a 2019 Mental Floss interview, Lee said: “Dermatology kind of fell into my lap. I was surrounded by it. […] It just was kind of a natural path.”

In 2010, Lee began a YouTube account for her dermatology practice, but she posted only sporadically, uploading just 12 videos in the first two years. Then in 2015, Dr. Lee found herself logged into her personal Instagram account, searching for a hairstylist she’d heard about.

Browsing through all the well-curated food and fashion blogs, she wondered if people might enjoy seeing something a bit different. Dermatology very much centers around aesthetics, so maybe people would like watching more up-close-and-personal videos of her procedures.

A few days later, Lee posted her first-ever blackhead extraction video. Her account almost immediately exploded (see what we did there?), gaining a few thousand followers with each new pimple-popping post. Dr. Lee made it her “thing,” asking virtually anyone she saw with a blackhead if she could extract it — on camera, of course. 

‘Dr. Pimple Popper’

After gaining widespread social media notoriety with her gross-but-somehow-addicting extraction videos, Dr. Lee landed her very own TLC show in 2018. Dr. Pimple Popper documents Lee and her Upland, California practice, Skin Physicians & Surgeons, as she treats a wide range of skin conditions, often popping or otherwise removing skin growths in the process.

The show has had four wildly successful seasons thus far, and a spinoff called Dr. Pimple Popper: Before the Pop is set to air in September 2020. TLC pays for the treatment, travel, and accommodations of all the people who appear on the show.

Despite Dr. Lee’s incredible on-camera success (she’s been very forthcoming about the fact that YouTube gave her the financial means to create her own skincare line, SLMD Skincare), she hasn’t gotten accustomed to watching extractions herself. In a Mashable interview, Lee said: “I can’t watch anyone else’s popping videos. Don’t send them to me. I will not watch them. I cannot even look at them. Never, never send me like, a horse abscess or something. That is disgusting to me.”

Wait…does that mean there are other pimple poppers out there?

The popping phenomenon is widespread

Dr. Lee is, without question, the most famous pimple-popping dermatologist out there. She really is the Dr. Pimple Popper. The fascination is everywhere though, and there are a number of “popping” creators all over the internet. 

Search #pimplepopping, #pimplepoppers, #poppers, or any other similar hashtag on Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok and you’ll get hundreds of thousands of results, many of which are accounts devoted solely to the extraction obsession. There’s an entire subreddit, appropriately-titled r/popping, dedicated to sharing and discussing pimple-popping videos — and it has nearly 300,000 members.

Even the Kardashians have hopped aboard this oddly satisfying train, with Kim Kardashian-West popping sister Khloe’s pimples on a KUWTK episode back in January 2020.