First YouTube videos, then a TLC special, and now a primetime series: On July 11, Dr. Sandra Lee will finally get her own show called Dr. Pimple Popper, a more in-depth version of what her myriad fans have typically seen (often under the shroud of secrecy) on their laptops over the last few years. The six, one-hour episodes will zero in on patients with serious, if not downright embarrassing, dermatological problems — like Tyler, a bearded ginger who’s hoping Lee can eradicate two rather large lumps on his forehead. Check out the exclusive video above.
In preparation for her show’s debut, we asked Lee, a licensed dermatologist in California and New York, whether her series will be as graphic as her YouTube channel videos, and if there’s something gross about being a closet popaholic.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What’s the format of your new series?
DR. SANDRA LEE: This is different than my YouTube channel. In the series, we follow the patients. I don’t really see this in my practice. I don’t really see how a bump on someone really affects his or her life. So it’s really nice to see this go full circle. Even though, to some people, it might be considered kind of gruesome or gross, it’s actually a really happy thing, a feel-good thing. It is an amazing process. I’m kind of freaked out, though, because…I mean, this is crazy to me. It’s pimple popping.
This has happened in the last three years, you know? I was not known as Dr. Pimple Popper over three years ago, so this is crazy to me and look where it’s brought us. I just am very proud that it is bringing happiness and joy to some people in the world. We’re helping people around the world.
The incredible thing about your YouTube channel is that viewers see everything. Will you go to that level with the TLC show? Will we see the actual popping?
I do think you’ll see a good amount of it, but it’s so much more. My YouTube channel is really all about the popping. You don’t even see my face, you don’t see the patient’s face. Now you see me, the patient’s face, you see their family members, you see where they live. I’ve had some of the biggest cases I’ve ever seen in my career on this show, so it’s quite amazing.
Can you give me an example?
Just the biggest cyst I’ve ever seen, the biggest lipoma I’ve ever seen. I am just so excited just to show people. I think one of the most important things is that people have these huge growths they hide from society or friends and family and just don’t treat them. I want to try to make them feel better about themselves. That’s one of the most important things about the show. It’s so much more than popping. Even though the pops are the big draw, you really see what we do as dermatologists.
You can learn a lot about lipomas on your YouTube channel.
You trick people into educating them! You have to entertain them, but now I’m surprised by how people know the difference between a lipoma or a cyst or a blackhead. Now we’re going to teach people about other medical conditions. There’s so many skin conditions that are really fascinating. Our skin is our armor, this is how we present ourselves to the world. If your skin looks different, it’s very hard to cope. We want to show how people live with these conditions that you might not see every day. You don’t realize the sort of burdens some people have to bear.
So will your show be as graphic as what we see on YouTube?
If you’re a popaholic, you’re going to get your fix. But it’s really going to draw in those people who are initially grossed out by my videos. They’ll get pulled in. They’re going to realize that it’s not about the grossness, it’s about real people and trying to make them better. Sometimes they will want to avert their eyes, but it’s going to pull them in emotionally.
How did you become Dr. Pimple Popper?
I started an Instagram channel and decided to post a blackhead extraction. It got all this attention. I thought, “What the heck is this?” So I did it again and it happened again. People were tagging friends and it was just getting more likes. At the same time, I had this patient that we nicknamed Mr. Wilson because he looked like Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace. He had the most amazing blackheads. They were like snowflakes. One could be like two inches long if you squeezed it. I’d extract a blackhead and it came out of the wrong place. Anyway, we posted his video on my YouTube channel, and it got a lot of attention. I realized there was this community of people that loved watching popping videos. I brought it out of the closet. It really relaxes people and calms them and makes them feel good and happy. It’s their bedtime story. Within three years, here we are. It’s crazy.
I’ve watched some of these videos. Does that mean that I am gross?
No. I’m very proud of you. People who are popaholics, you never know who they are in a bunch. It crosses all barriers. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s all good. People are fascinated to see somebody who is walking around for 30 years with a growth the size of a grapefruit behind their neck. To be able to remove it and see an immediate change right after surgery is just a really cool thing to be a part of.
Dr. Pimple Popper will premiere on Wednesday, July 11 at 10 p.m. ET.