Things They Didn't Show You On Dr. Pimple Popper

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Dr. Sandra Lee — better known as Dr. Pimple Popper — is a board-certified dermatologist who practices in Southern California. She started her Instagram account in 2015 to give others a look at what she does day-to-day at work. Although she did realize early on that people would find her dermatological content interesting (via GQ), we're guessing she had no idea just how much people would love watching her extractions. These days, Dr. Lee has an entire community of people (lovingly named "popaholics") who are obsessed with her content, which involves not just pimple-popping, but also cosmetic treatments and body sculpting procedures.

As evidenced by the millions of followers Dr. Lee has amassed on social media — 4.5 million on Instagram and 16 million on TikTok — people love to watch pimples (and blackheads ... and cysts ... and lipomas) get popped into oblivion. Dr. Lee lets us in on different skin conditions, methods of extraction, the patients' backgrounds, and other relevant pimple-popping info on her TV show, TLC's "Dr. Pimple Popper," as well as across her social media platforms. But what about all of the other aspects that go into "Dr. Pimple Popper" that happen behind the scenes? If you're interested in all the ins and outs of pimple popping — on and offscreen — we're here to fill you in.

You can submit through an open audition process to try to be on Dr. Pimple Popper

Have you ever wondered where all of Dr. Sandra Lee's onscreen patients come from? Those who are brave enough to get their pimples popped on national TV become members of the show in one of a few ways, according to Refinery29. One, you can actually audition to be on "Dr. Pimple Popper." Just send in a submission to the show's email address (, if you're interested) with a description and some photos of whatever skin situation you have going on, and you may end up being Dr. Lee's next patient.

Another pathway to becoming the next guest on "Dr. Pimple Popper" is through a casting process. Casting agents frequently find folks to be on the show through open forums like Reddit and Facebook (via Refinery 29). People from all over the world have flown in for the show, as Dr. Lee tells Lifestyle Today. "We cast a pretty wide net ... I mean, we've had people from other countries, certainly from Canada, from the Philippines," Dr. Lee explains.

Lastly, people also have the opportunity to be on "Dr. Pimple Popper" if they're already established patients of Dr. Lee and they're a good fit for the show (per Lifestyle Today). One thing to keep in mind if you want to be on the show is "the bigger or crazier the skin condition, the better the chances," Dr. Lee tells Refinery29.

The production company pays for patients' procedures on the show

It's no secret that medical procedures — especially ones considered cosmetic, which is the case for many of the lumps, bumps, and pimples shown on "Dr. Pimple Popper" — can be expensive. One major upside to being on "Dr. Pimple Popper" is that all expenses associated with a person's appointment with Dr. Sandra Lee are covered by the TV show's production company (per Refinery 29). This includes everything from the procedure itself to any travel costs that people may encounter if they don't live near Dr. Lee's Upland, California office.

Dr. Lee recognizes the financial burden that these procedures can carry. "Medical insurance is complicated," she tells Refinery29. "The rules of what dermatological procedures are covered under certain insurance plans differ state to state. Sadly, I find that the reason a lot of my patients haven't had their condition treated is because they don't have the money to have it done."

Still, Dr. Lee suggests getting any skin condition checked out if you can, especially if it's bothering you or seems potentially dangerous. "If you have any kind of skin condition that you think may be abnormal, I recommend seeing a dermatologist," she explains to Refinery29. "There are so many wonderful board-certified dermatologists all around the world and if you're meeting with one, that's someone who has spent many, many years — 12 years of higher education — becoming an expert on the skin," she says.

Dr. Lee doesn't make much money from her TLC show

It may come as a surprise that Dr. Sandra Lee doesn't make much money from her TLC show, "Dr. Pimple Popper." She tells WealthSimple, "I'm not getting paid anything for the show, really." Though we don't have the exact numbers that Dr. Lee brings in from her show or other streams of income, Distractify estimates that Dr. Lee makes around $2 million each year just from her YouTube videos. That doesn't include her dermatologist salary (which ranges, on average, from $260,000 to $400,000 per year) or sales from her book and skincare line. Overall, her net worth appears to be about $8 million for the year 2021 (per Distractify via The Wealth Record).

Despite the apparent lack of cash from "Dr. Pimple Popper," Dr. Lee remains grateful for the show. "I'm so fortunate to have this — that this has been offered to me — and I'm so fortunate that they're [the producers] making me look good," she tells WealthSimple. She adds that getting to see how her work actually impacts patients is also rewarding: "[In general] I don't see how people respond to me removing some growth on them. I don't really see how it affects their life. So it's cool for me to see that, and it makes me realize that what I'm doing is a good thing."

She has an all-access subscription website for behind-the-scenes videos and forums

There's a good chance that if you like Dr. Sandra Lee's content, you'll love her behind-the-scenes subscription, Dr. Pimple Popper All-Access. Popaholics who need to see more popping only have to pay $1.99 per month to see disgustingly satisfying content like a video of a cyst extraction entitled, "Thick Oatmeal in the Cheek Cyst," with a description that says "Breakfast is served! Get your bowls out for some thick oatmeal inside this cheek hehe." To many people, this title and description sound absolutely deranged and relatively nauseating. However, for popaholics, it's the gross-but-satisfying content they're obsessed with. To each their own, right?

Before Dr. Pimple Popper blew up, she stumbled upon the pimple-popping community online and, according to GQ, thought to herself: "I could be their queen. I could be their person." The enthusiasm she received from the community cemented the idea of Dr. Lee becoming the Dr. Pimple Popper, leading her to post more content and eventually create "Dr. Pimple Popper All-Access." She tells GQ, "I saw the reactions, I saw people getting excited about it and it was just like this bonfire I felt like I was building. I was like let's see what we can do with this. There's got to be an ending, there's got to be a limit, but it's still growing. It's crazy."

She doesn't know what kind of patients she'll see each day, but takes them as they come

Dr. Sandra Lee's patients range from people who have minor-but-persistent skin conditions to people with 55-year-old blackheads. When you're dealing with intense and sometimes painful conditions, many medical professionals would likely want to review each case and mentally prepare for what they had on each day's roster.

However, Dr. Lee takes a different approach. According to an all-access forum where she did a Q&A, Dr. Lee tends not to worry too much about what each day will bring. "I don't often look that far ahead," she says, "which I know is kind of a downfall for me, but it's actually hard for me to do ... I just take it as it comes." She continues to explain her process, saying that "sometimes this works against me" because she is not as "mentally prepared" as she could be, but she notes that it's rare for her to feel completely unprepared to help a patient. "Ultimately, I just want to do the best thing I can for someone and within my capabilities. If something is beyond my abilities or I think it's unsafe I let people know and I think people respect me for saying these things," she says.

Dr. Pimple Popper is living the #NoDaysOff life

It appears that Dr. Sandra Lee is a very busy woman, and though she doesn't see patients on her days off, she's not necessarily chilling either. According to PopSugar, her "days off" include "meetings, filming content for SLMD [her dermatology office], filming podcasts and TV shows, and editing videos for my social media platforms and YouTube." And before she does all of that, she works out and takes her kids to school (via PopSugar).

Does she ever have any downtime? Yes, she does have a little free time at the end of her long days, and she often fills it with some adorable "snuggle time with the kids and hubby." She explains to Popsugar, "We all get into one big bed and watch a little national news and 'Impractical Jokers.'" Dr. Lee also says she and her family go to her parent's house for dinner several times a week since her parents live nearby. "I'm so lucky to live near my family and that my mom is a spectacular cook, whipping up traditional Singapore and Malaysian dishes effortlessly. Anyone who has eaten one of her meals will agree," she says.

She still films and edits her own YouTube content

Most people who have become as successful as Dr. Sandra Lee would probably outsource the work that they don't want to do or don't have time to do. But not Dr. Pimple Popper. Although she does have a team to help her edit and film content (per PopSugar) she still likes to do a lot of the editing on her own.

When describing what a week in her life is like to PopSugar, Dr. Pimple Popper said that the evenings are when she typically has time to work on her YouTube videos. "I love doing it [editing YouTube videos] myself whenever I can," she says. She's also the mastermind behind the content of her videos, explaining, "I really wanted to get a fun Halloween video up on my YouTube channel, so I spent some time brainstorming ideas for something popaholics would love." Her dedication to her fans and her YouTube channel is impressive, especially considering how much the dermatologist has on her plate, between her book, her TV show, her skincare line, and probably five other things in the works!

Some pops are more shocking than others, but Dr. Lee plays it cool

Despite Dr. Sandra Lee being a pro popper, there are parts of the job that gross her out (though her clients would never know.) "The ones that are most shocking to me are the ones that get you. They squirt. We have protective gear, but sometimes you might even forget your protective gear and not expect that something's gonna get you," she tells Mashable. She also said that cysts can be more challenging than other types of skin conditions: "If you get cyst on your hair, it's sort of like a campfire when you smell it. You gotta take a shower. You get it on your arm, you feel like it's acid on you. When you have an infected cyst or inflamed cyst ... that can be messy. Those are probably the most gruesome."

She also shares another thing with GQ that grosses her out, though it's not quite what you'd expect from the queen of pimple popping. "Toe jam is my kryptonite," she said. "Like, I don't like long toenails and stuff like that." Totally valid, Dr. Pimple Popper.

She also does other non-popping procedures, such as liposuction and body sculpting

Did you know Dr. Pimple Popper does way more than just extractions? At her office, Skin Physicians & Surgeons, Dr. Sandra Lee does plenty of extractions, but she also frequently does things like earlobe surgeries and Mohs surgery as well as cosmetic procedures. In an interview with Mental Floss, Dr. Lee says, "I guess I'm a surgeon, but that's not what all dermatologists do ... I do a lot of cosmetics, too: liposuction, laser resurfacing, eye lifts, skin cancer surgery, Botox, and fillers."

Despite the fact that Dr. Lee is trained in a wide variety of areas, she doesn't film a lot of content besides extractions. "I don't really show that [non-extraction content]. There are other people [on YouTube] that show that and so sometimes I consider doing that, too," she tells Mental Floss. Filming other procedures can be more difficult because "it's just a different kind of clientele, and they're more self-conscious," Dr. Lee explains.

Dr. Lee only sees non-TV patients two days per week

Dr. Pimple Popper explains her hectic schedule, telling Allure that she typically sees (non-TV-show) patients two days each week — but that doesn't mean she's not working nearly every other day of the week. "I have so many other things that are going on, like we're filming for the TV show, doing things on social media, like, I feel like I'm working literally, like from the moment I wake up to pretty much when I go sleep," she says.

She tells PopSugar that her filming schedule for her TV show can be overwhelming. "I'm actually working through the weekend," she says. "I wake up to start filming some episodes for season two of my show. I see three to four patients per day, with the aim to try and film an episode per day. It's a really long day, with a lot of down time, and then a lot of stress — it's very "hurry up and wait."

Keeping up with her social media posts seems to be nearly as demanding as her filming schedule and her dermatology career. According to Mental Floss, Dr. Lee films at least one video most days, but "some days I get five, so I probably have 30 days of content backed up. I try to put one video up every day." Wow.

She has a TikTok where you can see more pimple-popping content

You may be more familiar with Dr. Sandra Lee's TLC show, YouTube videos, or Instagram posts, but the famous dermatologist also puts out tons of content on TikTok. On her TikTok page, she posts plenty of extraction videos, but she also throws in some funny skits, day-in-the-life videos, and duets with other users. Overall, it's a fun and personal look into her work and her day-to-day life, and it seems like she's very engaged with her viewers.

Just a quick browse through her page shows a "Guess the Contents" video, in which viewers have to guess what type of ... material? ... will be inside a patient's lump/cyst/pimple. It could be a smooth, dense material which is typically found in a lipoma; a textured, liquid-y substance that Dr. Lee has taken to calling "oatmeal" or it could be something else entirely — the surprise and shock factor is part of the appeal.

On the "Guess the Contents" video, the top comment is one that reads, "Bro I gagged and then continued watching it," and we'd say that this comment really encapsulates the Dr. Pimple Popper experience.

Dr. Lee wants to normalize lumps and bumps while still respecting her clients

Yes, a big part of why people love "Dr. Pimple Popper" is because it's addictingly gross to watch, but another reason is that it really helps to normalize the weird stuff going on with our bodies that we all have to deal with at some point or another.

Dr. Sandra Lee tells Mashable about a client who was dealing with cysts on his scrotum, a condition called scrotal calcinosis. "This guy was like 24, never had a girlfriend, his parents don't even know," she says. She went on to explain how "important" it is for people to realize that all bodies can be weird sometimes, and that's nothing to be ashamed of. "He didn't know anyone else who ever had it ... It was a big deal for him to see me in the first place," she said.

While Dr. Pimple Popper is all for normalizing skin conditions of all kinds, she also prioritizes respecting her client's privacy above all. "I have had women who've had big blackheads on their private area, and I don't usually take photos just because it's a private area," she tells Mashable. "I can find a good blackhead somewhere else. I don't need to show that area of somebody."