How would you like to watch a big, fat, juicy pimple pop and ooze pus and gunk? Sounds revolting? But you’ll be surprised at how satisfying it can be. And thanks to YouTube sensation Dr Sandra Lee, you can watch tons of such videos online. Nearly 60,000 people subscribe to her channel, where she regularly posts videos of herself popping her clients’ zits.
Lee is a California based dermatologist and a regular guest on a talk show called The Doctors. But on the internet, she is popular as Dr Pimple Popper – a nickname that she chose for herself when she first started posting clips of blackhead and whitehead extractions. Apart from her massive YouTube following, she has a loyal fan base on Reddit as well.
“I find this little subculture fascinating,” Lee said, in a recent interview. “I pop these things, and yeah they kind of make me feel good, they’re satisfying, but it’s not like I seek them out.” But every time a client walks in to her office, she offers to pop their zits for free, if they’ll allow her post it online. Interestingly, no one has ever refused the offer.
Lee, who initially used her channel to feature segments from her TV show, said that she first started posting short clips of popping zits on Instagram. When the clips garnered a lot of interest, she decided to put up a full-length video of a blackhead extraction on YouTube, in December. It instantly went viral with over 350,000 views. “I didn’t realise how big it would be,” she said.
“I was floored to discover that there are so many people addicted to watching blackheads extracted and cysts and lipomas excised!” she wrote on her YouTube page. “Now hopefully everyone wins! My patients get their pimples popped, and my popaholic fans sleep better at night, knowing that those blackheads were extracted.”
According to Lee, she has come a long way since she posted that first video – she’s learned a lot more about the video making process and about her fans. She explains that there are two kinds of fans – those who like a ‘soft pop’ and others who will only watch ‘hard pops’.
“Some people just like blackheads, it’s like soft porn, a soft pop,” she told Racked Magazine. “And then there’s a hard pop, where people like more of a cyst.”
By March, Lee had so many videos on her channel that she created a ‘best of soft pop’ video montage – it has received over 500,000 views so far. She plans to do a ‘best of hard pop’ video soon.
But her videos aren’t only about popping zits – she tries to make them more relatable by showing the ‘human side’ of her patients and having them share their stories while maintaining anonymity. She revealed that one of her favorite patients is a person she calls ‘Pop’, who recently lost his wife.
“What’s amazing is that what started as a video of my squeezing the blackheads on his nose has transformed into the wonderful feel-good human interest story,” she told Daily Mail. “They were inseparable, and he has had trouble adjusting to his new life in an assisted living facility. He has both financial and emotional stress, and he tells a little of his story in his videos.”
Touched by the man’s story, Lee’s followers on YouTube and Reddit asked her to start a GoFundMe campaign, so that they could help him financially. Lee started the page on April 15, and it has already exceeded its goal of collecting $5,000.
Although Lee has posted hundreds of videos, she doesn’t consider herself a ‘true popper’, because she doesn’t enjoy watching other people squeeze their pimples without the right tools. “I don’t watch any other videos,” she said. “They all kind of gross me out! When they’re amateur, I don’t want to hear screaming, I don’t like that stuff.”
Lee herself uses clean gloves and a comedone extractor to pop acne. And she warns that people shouldn’t pop their own pimples because it might result in permanent scarring. For those who absolutely cannot resist picking, she recommends using a warm compress, and pricking the blemish with a sterile needle when it comes to a head.
Apart from popping zits, Lee is also a skin cancer surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon. “People might construe that I’m addicted to this stuff, but I’m not,” she explained. “This isn’t everything that I do. In fact, it’s a very small part.”
Photos: Dr. Sandra Lee/Instagram, Facebook