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.
Last week, Dr. Pimple Popper left us with a cliffhanger: Gerald, the final patient we saw in the premiere episode of season 3, came in with a bulging, golfball-sized tumor growing on his finger, and Dr. Sandra Lee was just plain stumped. This week, she gets to the bottom of Gerald's curious case, plus tackles two new skin abnormalities — one massive and hopefully benign birthmark, and a lipoma stuck in one woman's upper leg. Read on to find out how this one ends.
Case #1: Gerald
As we learned last episode, Dr. Lee wasn't able to help Gerald on her own, since his issue isn't entirely dermatological in nature. Instead, she phones a friend, colleague Dr. James Lilley, a San Bernardino County-based orthopedic hand surgeon. Dr. Lilley agrees to tag-team a surgery, and we take a first-ever Dr. Pimple Popper field trip from Dr. Lee's home base in Upland to Casa Colina Hospital in Pamona, California.
The CT scan of Gerald's finger shows Dr. Lee and Dr. Lilley that the growth is not wrapped around any important muscles or nerves of his finger, so they feel confident that it can be removed without doing any damage to the structural integrity of the finger. In surgery, Dr. Lilley begins by slicing into the tumor, finding it to be well-contained under the skin — that's a good thing. He has to work very slowly as not to disrupt the underlying nerves or veins of Gerald's finger; if one single teeny-tiny nerve is nicked, Gerald could lose sensation in his hand. With utmost concentration, Dr. Lilley is able to extract the mass cleanly, in one piece, which ends with what looks like a portobello mushroom laying on the cutting-room table.
Case #2: Vinnie
In Pennsylvania, we meet 14-year-old Vinnie, a boy who has a huge brown birthmark growing on his neck. While the mole-like mark has been present since birth, it's changed substantially in the past few years, growing bigger in size and rougher in texture, and has even spouted hair. "What bothers me the most is that kids make fun of it, calling me 'poop neck' or 'ugly face,'" Vinnie says. "I just pull up my hood, but I'm pretty sick of it." (In case you needed a reminder that teenagers can be mean.)
Vinnie and his mom head to California to see Dr. Lee about the birthmark, and at the consult, Dr. Lee tells them that the technical term for the skin abnormality is congenital nevus: a birth mole that tends to grow hair. "It's a cosmetic concern," Dr. Lee explains. "Given that Vinnie's mark is on the skin of his neck, the removal process would be long and arduous, with multiple skin grafts and probably a lot of pain."
Given the downsides, Vinnie and his mom decide that the birthmark isn't all that bad — and actually kind of cool, because it makes Vinnie unique! Plus, he won't be 14 forever. Dr. Lee offers to smooth the roughness of the mark, and performs a quick surgery to deflate some of the air pockets under the skin. It's not a drastic change, but a valuable lesson in finding ways to love the skin you're in.
Case #3: Leta
For the last and most uplifting case of the day, we head to a church in Montgomery, Alabama, where we meet Leta, a 50-year-old choir singer with an orange-sized lump growing on the backside of her upper thigh. Leta tells us that she hides the bump by wrapping her leg with medical tape and wearing thick Spanx. Not only is her bump an everyday hassle to wrap and bind, but Leta is marrying her fiancé James in a few months and refuses to go dress shopping until she can feel confident in her body — without the leg lump that's bothering her so much.
At the consult, Dr. Lee feels around Leta's lump and suspects that it's a lipoma, so the two head to surgery. Dr. Lee cuts into Leta's leg, and pulls the flubbery tissue out of Leta's lump by the fistful. In the end, Leta sings goodbye to her lipoma (literally) and is finally ready to walk down the aisle.
That's all for now — and no cliffhangers this time. Tune in next week for what's sure to be another can't-miss collection of medical mysteries.