Every week on Dr. Pimple Popper, dermatologist Sandra Lee, MD, meets with men and women suffering from rare, often confidence-crushing skin conditions. The boils they carry are massive. The cysts are bubbling up to balloon-sized. But it's the people underneath the incredible lumps and growths that make the show worth watching. Just cover your eyes through the pus-filled eruptions, if you must.
We've got big news for all you popaholics! After dishing all things Dr. Pimple Popper with anyone who can stomach it for the past five weeks, you probably prayed this news was coming, and now it's official: The hit TLC show has been renewed for a second season, after a smashingly successful premiere run. Speaking of, sadly, this sixth episode marks the series finale, so you'll have to wait until January to get your next This Is Zit fix.
But, as is the case with TV finales in general, Dr. Lee saved three of her most-shocking cases for last. From one patient's butt lump (which comes with a mild nudity warning), to the C-cup-sized mass hanging from one guy's hip, and the stretchiest post-gauge earlobes you've ever seen — Dr. Lee closes out this season with the wackiest surgical trilogy popaholics could hope for. Watch it yourself, or read all about it in our highlight reel, below.
Case #1: Taylor
First up, we meet bright-eyed, blonde-haired, 22-year-old Taylor from St. Louis, who we quickly learn is hiding a sizeable lump on her backside. Mooning the camera in the first five minutes of the episode, Taylor pulls down her shorts to show Dr. Lee "Lizzie," her nickname for the fist-sized growth on her butt. "Ever since I was born, there was this slight curve to my butt; they called it a gluteal cleft," explains Taylor of the knot at the bottom of her spinal cord. "When I hit my hormonal teenage years, it grew bigger, and I started to worry that it might be life-threatening."
A few years ago, Taylor saw a surgeon to have her mysterious gluteal mass removed, but Lizzie grew right back. And now, as a young woman trying to shop for jeans and date like any other 22-year-old, Taylor is really resenting Lizzie the lump. "I'm a girl, and I can't hide it all the time," Taylor says, tearing up talking about it. "The worst is when I'm in a fitting room and I see it in the back mirror — I get so angry. I've never had a boyfriend or even been on a date, because I'm so scared of someone seeing Lizzie."
So, with nothing to lose, Taylor flies out to Dr. Lee to try to break up with Lizzie for good. At her initial consultation, Dr. Lee (who has seen it all) is perplexed by everything happening — including the location and the fact that Taylor was born with the bump. "I'm just confused how Taylor could've gone through a surgery to have this lipoma removed, and have it look worse a year later," says Dr. Lee, with a hunch that there might be another medical variable at play. "I don't think it can be a lipoma, because this bump has been with Taylor since birth, and you can't be born with a lipoma. So there's something else going on here."
Needing more time to investigate, Dr. Lee orders Taylor a full-body MRI scan and ultrasound to gather all the information about what's happening under her skin. A thorough examination of the scan shows that Taylor's lump has been misdiagnosed for her entire life. Dr. Lee sits Taylor down and explains that the bump between her butt cheeks is a condition called spinal dysraphism, a condition that occurs when a baby's spinal cord doesn't fuse all the way, leaving a nubby nerve ending which pops out around the bottom.
Dr. Lee shows Taylor her scans, explaining that the main issue with attempting to excise Lizzie is that she's growing on that end of her spinal cord, and that area is flush with nerve endings — which makes it extremely dangerous to operate on. "Taylor is actually extremely lucky that this abnormality in her spinal cord hasn't caused her to lose movement in her legs, her bladder, or anywhere else," Dr. Lee explains, astonished that Taylor has gone 22 years without having this condition properly diagnosed.
But Dr. Lee doesn't send Taylor back home without addressing her aesthetic concerns. She offers to make the protruding bump appear smaller by pulling and tightening the loose skin on the small of Taylor's back, without touching the edge that's attached to the spinal cord. "I can't remove the entire lipoma because it would disrupt the nerve endings in the spinal cord," explains Dr. Lee of the surgery. "But I can remove some of the superficial skin to make the bump stick out a little less." Which is exactly what she does.
In surgery, Dr. Lee takes her scissors and cuts away the skin at the base of Taylor's spine (right at her butt crack, sorry), then uses a small razor to slice away the top layers of pale yellow fat, in an attempt to de-bulk and flatten the upper-buttocks area. Dr. Lee severs away a decent amount of fatty skin before sewing Taylor up nice and tight.
As far as before-and-afters go, this surgery proves to be a major success. Despite the fact that it was a risky procedure, both Taylor and Lizzie walk away happy.
Case #2: John
Next, we meet 45-year-old John, a lanky guy with long grayish-brown hair who flew in from Hawaii (which we could've guessed from his chill vibe, his Hawaiian t-shirt, and the fact that he greets the receptionist with an "Aloha"). John's laid-back sensibility makes it easy for him to laugh off the honking, boob-shaped mass hanging off his hip. "It's got some girth," John explains, showing the camera his fatty lump's free-range mobility. "I can shimmy it, and bounce it around." John's hip growth really looks like it belongs on someone's chest, tapering to a nipple-like point and everything.
John comes to Dr. Lee asking for a breast-reduction, of sorts. Dr. Lee is pretty sure John's got a lipoma on his hip, but she's not entirely sure because of the supple, breast-like shape. "I think this is a lipoma," Dr. Lee says. "But it comes to a point, which a cyst sometimes does, so I can't be sure." To figure out what's inside the mystery boob, John lays on his side, with the growth facing up. "This surgery is a little nerve-wracking because this mass is situated close to John's internal organs," Dr. Lee explains. "I don't want to go too far and accidentally hit his kidney or intestines." So, she proceeds with caution.
Dr. Lee slowly slices into John's shapely mass, immediately diagnosing it as a lipoma. A collection of fibrous fatty lumps pop out from the first cut, and Dr. Lee starts squeezing the whole, solidified mass up and out from the excision. The stretchy bands of fat holding the lipoma under the skin make the removal process a little tricky. But Dr. Lee is a pro, and successfully scoops out the entire lipoma, plopping the big blob onto the surgical table. And with that, John says aloha to his side-boob jiggle for good.
Case #3: Noel
The last patient of the day is 29-year-old hairdresser Noel, who lives in Boise, Idaho. Unlike the other patients we've seen this season, Noel's skin-condition is self-inflicted: She has very stretched-out earlobes as a result of wearing huge gauges back when she was fifteen. "I started with regular ear piercings, and then started experimenting with bigger earrings and gauges," explained Noel of how the permanent stretching started. "I got really creative with my stretching, using things around the house, like straws and pen caps, to stretch out my piercing holes. Now, my earlobes are so stretched, that I can fit my fingers through them," Noel continues, hooking her pinkie fingers through her gaping gauge holes — which looks like a trick straight out of the Guinness Book of World Records.
As a professional adult, Noel regrets her severe ear-stretching, and usually wears her hair down to hide her ears (which reminds us of Amber and her ear keloids from episode 1). Noel hopes Dr. Lee can help close the holes so she can have her earlobes back to normal — and she's in luck —because Dr. Lee loves earlobe procedures. "I like doing earlobe repairs because you have to get creative and use the earlobe skin that's left to salvage the lobe back together," Dr. Lee explains. "Noel's ears are especially challenging, because there's really not much un-stretched skin left."
This surgical procedure is pretty gnarly, as Dr. Lee slices into Noel's ear with a small scalpel, reopening the skin surrounding the gauge hole, in order to be able to sew it back together. Surprisingly — because you think of the ear as mostly cartilage — this part is very bloody. Dr. Lee takes scissors to the bottom portion of the gauge holes, cutting open the holes, and leaving two separate flaps of skin. Dr. Lee carefully sews the pieces of earlobe skin back together, creating a fresh, new lobe. In the end, Noel has new, cute, attached earlobes. Which is nice for her, because our teenage mistakes should not permanently define our adult lives — that wouldn't be good for any of us.
And with that, Dr. Pimple Popper's opening season comes to a close. It was the best of times, and the queasiest of times — and you can bet we'll be watching Dr. Lee's sophomore season come January 2019, for a whole new cast of lumps and bumps that will likely top anything we've ever seen.