Dr Sandra Lee is dermatologist at the Skin Physicians & Surgeons practice in Upland, California, and a regular guest on The Doctors talk show, but online she is known simply as Dr Pimple Popper, a moniker she used when she started posting clips of her patients’ extractions on her YouTube channel. The clips have earned her nearly 60,000 subscribers, as well as loyal fan base of zit squeezing enthusiasts on Reddit.
‘I find this little subculture fascinating,’ Dr Lee told Racked of her followers. ‘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.’
Dr Lee explained that when a patient comes in she offers to tackle their blemishes in exchange for them allowing her to post the videos of the process online, while keeping the clips as anonymous as she can.
And she noted that, despite the somewhat gruesome nature of her YouTube channel, ‘nobody ever says no’.
Before she shot to internet fame, Dr Lee’s channel, used to only feature a selection of TV segments that she had done, only had a few thousand followers. However, when she joined Instagram, she started posting short clips of her actually treating patients, a decision which quickly garnered her much more interest, prompting her to start putting full-length clips up on YouTube, starting with a video of her extracting a man’s blackheads.
‘I didn’t realize how big it would be,’ she said of the video, which has received more than 360,000 views since it was posted in December.
Dr Lee explained that she was such an ‘amateur’ at the time; she barely knew anything about Reddit and was ‘floored’ when she learned that her video was being shared on a popular pimple popping subreddit. The experience opened her eyes to an entire community that she had no idea existed.
The doctor, who is now well-known on the subreddit, said the people are ‘really wonderful’.