You don't have to be a popaholic or a glutton for punishment to thoroughly enjoy TLC's hit medical reality series Dr. Pimple Popper. In fact, the graphic surgical element of the show is really just a sidebar to the bigger story: a look into the lives of these deserving patients, the real people who come from all over the world for a consult with Dr. Sandra Lee.
In a recent interview, we sat down with America's most in-demand dermatologist and asked the question we all want answered: How can you make an appointment with Dr. Pimple Popper so that you might find yourself starring in an episode next season? Find out the answer, and everything you need to know about the show's casting process, ahead.
Make A Submission Through The Open Audition Process
According to Dr. Lee, there are a few different avenues by which patients get onto the show, the most popular being through casting. "There are casting agents who are hired by TLC to find potential patients for filming," Dr. Lee says. "But they're always reaching out on open forums — like Reddit or Facebook Ads — asking for public submissions, which can be made to Popper@aberrantcreative.com."
If you send in a submission, including photos of your skin condition, and are chosen by the casting agency to appear on the show (following TLC's audition process), your on-screen procedure — be it a lipoma pop or a ten-blade to your cyst — is free of charge. "The production company foots the patient's bill for their travel expenses as well as my fees," Dr. Lee says, adding that the all-expenses-paid perk is especially key because of the gray area between what's covered in cosmetic dermatology and what's not.
"Medical insurance is complicated," she explains. "The rules of what dermatological procedures are covered under certain insurance plans differs state to state. Sadly, I find that the reason a lot of my patients haven't had their condition treated is because they don't have the money to have it done. If you have to cover a complicated surgery out of pocket, it can be very expensive."
Visit Her Office In Upland, CA
Of course, Dr. Lee still sees many patients off camera through her (and her husband's) dermatological practice in Upland, CA. That said, Dr. Pimple Popper production has changed her day-to-day routine and the volume of cases she can take on. "I still see patients daily," she explains. "But I also consult many of the cases I can't take to my husband and the other doctors and mid-level professionals in our office. As a result, we're all treating more complicated procedures — more cysts and bigger growths — than we were before."
See Your Local Board-Certified Dermatologist
So, what if you have an unusual skin condition, are nowhere near the Upland office, and don't get cast for the show? Dr. Lee says the answer is simple: Find a board-certified dermatologist close by. "If you have any kind of skin condition that you think may be abnormal, I recommend seeing a dermatologist," Dr. Lee says. "There are so many wonderful board-certified dermatologists all around the world and if you're meeting with one, that's someone who has spent many, many years — 12 years of higher education — becoming an expert on the skin. At the very least, if you see a dermatologist who doesn't specialize in treating your particular condition, he or she can refer you to someone who can help."
Thus the short answer to our original question: Technically, anyone can make it onto Dr. Pimple Popper's surgical table. "I will say, the bigger or crazier the skin condition, the better the chances," Dr. Lee says. That's just showbiz, baby.
Dr. Pimple Popper airs Thursday at 9 p.m. EST on TLC.