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.
Drumroll, please. After four long months, Dr. Pimple Popper, everyone's favorite Thursday-night medical mystery, is back for a third go-around. If you've watched the trailer, you already know that this season is going to be even more shcoking than the first two, and it opens with three incredible cases right off the bat. First, there's Jennifer with the biggest ear keloids Dr. Sandra Lee has ever seen; Juliet, with a bad case of steatocystomas (and a very satisfying extraction process); plus one case so wild, not even the best doc in the biz can figure it out. Read on for all the details.
Case #1: Jennifer
The first case takes us to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where we meet Jennifer, a 29-year-old cosplay actress with massive growths on her ears. The bulging tumors are likely keloids, the result of an infected ear piercing that started to develop after Jennifer's cartilage piercings closed up — 11 years ago. Since then, the growths have grown to be a huge hinderance, to the point that Jennifer hides them under a thick headband. She explains it's more of a necessity than an accessory because the keloids are so heavy that they cause her nausea and bouts of vertigo when left to dangle freely.
The keloids have also taken a major toll on Jennifer's sense of self. "I'm in danger of not wanting to live anymore, if I can't feel good about myself," she tells the camera, tearing up about her struggle with this painful deformity. So she heads to L.A. to talk to Dr. Lee, who immediately confirms that the heavy ear growths are, in fact, keloids. One of the biggest concerns is that they've grown to cover most of the surface of her ears, which means there's not much healthy tissue left. Therefore, removal surgery could leave Jennifer's ears looking deformed, and there's always chance they might grow back. Understanding the potential risks, Jennifer is willing to take her chances.
In surgery, Dr. Lee first removes the largest of Jennifer's four ear growths, which she says is the biggest ear keloid she's ever removed (and she's seen a lot). The removal — which involves taking a scalpel and slicing off the keloid bulge — is actually the easy part. Now, Dr. Lee is left with a tricky reconstruction surgery, trying to piece together what's left of Jennifer's ear tissue using a skin graft to restore the shape of the earlobe. After a complicated and intricate surgery, Jennifer's keloids are completely gone, along with the physical and emotional weight of the past decade.
Case #2: Juliet
The second case of the episode starts with a trip northwest, to Bothell, Washington, which is where we meet 51-year-old Juliet. Juliet has unidentified bumps all over her neck and chest — about 50 total, ranging in size from a pea to a golf ball. The skin deformity isn't all that obvious, but as a single mom, Juliet feels that her bumpy skin is getting in the way of her going out and meeting people. Her self-esteem is already in serious need of a boost: She says that her ex-husband told her that nobody would ever love her with "those lumps."
At her consult, Juliet meets with Dr. Lee, who tells her that the body bumps are a dual condition of both steatocystomas and smaller europe vellus hair cysts. They are similar oil-producing cysts with slightly different contents underneath the surface of the skin. Dr. Lee can remove them, but has to be very careful because most of Juliet's lumps are directly over neck veins; the puncture cuts to extract the cysts have to be precise. In surgery, the cysts deflate to a thick, butter-like that Dr. Lee finds extremely satisfying. She even lets Juliet hold a mirror up to watch her puffy skin drain back to normal.
Case #3: Gerald
The last case starts in Chicago, where we meet 33-year-old Gerald, who works as a crossing guard. Eight years ago, he started growing a bump on his left middle finger that was about the size of a wart; now, it's roughly as large as a golf ball. The lump is a major inconvenience for Gerald's everyday activities, like opening a door, tying a shoe, or holding a crosswalk sign.
At his consultation, Gerald is ready to get his finger back to normal — but Dr. Lee is immediately concerned. She inspects the bump on Gerald's knuckle, guessing it might be a lipoma, but admits that she's never seen a condition like this. She's shocked that there's still good blood supply to the finger considering how tight the lump is to the structural integrity of the finger. "If this was a loose-hanging bump, that would be one thing," explains Dr. Lee, "but because it's sitting right up on the bone of the finger, this is no longer just a skin issue." That being said, Dr. Lee is unable to remove the bump herself — but, like the caring practitioner she is, she's committed to finding Gerald the right muscle and bone specialist to take care of it.
And that concludes the premiere episode of season 3. Tune in next week to see how Dr. Lee tops it... because you know she will.