I love popping pimples. When I don't have my own to pop I sit on top of my boyfriend, who lets me squeeze his face until either his blackheads or his patience runs out. And when I really need that fix, I watch Dr. Pimple Popper viral videos. She is a professional after all. Yesterday, Dr. Pimple Popper (a.k.a. Dr. Sandra Lee) took time out of her busy pimple popping schedule to talk to me about squeezing cysts, social media, and why something so gross could be become so popular.
Who are you? How did it come to this?
I grew up on Southern California. Went undergrad at UCLA, then med school at Hahnemann University in Philadelphia (which is now Drexel), did a residency at SIU in Springfield, and then a fellowship in San Diego.
That's a lot of training to become the world's most popular popper. What's your favorite procedure to perform?
I'm a dermatological surgeon, so my favorite things to do is surgery in general. I do cosmetic surgery, weather it be eye lifts, or liposuction, things like that. But I also do skin cancer surgery, a procedure called Mohs surgery.
You're a real surgeon curing skin cancer, what made you decide to start filming these popping videos?
It just happened. I had an Instagram page that had me doing various different procedures, and once I posted a pimple popping or a black head extraction I noticed it got a little jump in views. And then I put one on my YouTube channel and that got more and more attention, and it made me discover that there was a whole community of people— on reddit for example— who just like to watch shared videos. The subreddit is called "popping," and they just share popping videos and most of them are amateur videos, people doing it in their own home, with no gloves. Just in their bathroom or their living room, and I realized I had access to what they were looking for. But it became much bigger than this. A lot of people like this kind of stuff.
How did this become a thing? Why do we like this?
I think it's fascinating. It something that we all can relate to. We've all had a pimple, we know it can feel good to have the thing removed. Its a cleansing feeling, it relaxes people, it decreases their anxiety.
What makes a great video? How do some videos become more popular than others?
I think my favorite ones are the ones that are the most favorite by the YouTube community... a couple reasons why. There can be a really touching person, a person who kind of touches our hearts even though we don't know them. There's also people who have amazing cysts or amazing blackheads that you wouldn't expect were under there— there's this thing that you cant believe came out of somebody. I don't think there's one people didn't like that I can't understand why they didn't like that person. I think people catch on, they have the same attraction to these things.
Are there any that you go back to watch yourself?
Sometimes, if something just stuck with me. Like the big lipoma, like a chicken cutlet, that came out of that woman's arm, the one that came from Alaska. The way it just pops out like that, its enormous, and that's certainly something that I could probably watch over and over again. There's some things that I go "wow," you know?
Yeah. I do know. I love that one.
We all love that one. To date, Dr. Pimple popper has millions of subscribers on both her YouTube channel and Instagram page. She's also started a new channel, Dr. Pimple Popper University, just in case maybe you have the urge to do this at home right now.