Popaholics are having a moment, thanks in large part to Sandra Lee. The dermatologic and cosmetic surgeon based out of Southern California struck gold — or should we say blackheads? — with her viral pimple popping videos, and made this guilty pleasure a little less guilty.
No longer do popaholics need to feel ashamed of their fascination with skin extractions. Lee, best known as Dr. Pimple Popper, has proven there are many others out there like them with her 3.6 million subscribers on YouTube and 2.7 million followers on Instagram. That’s a lot of popaholics! “People were watching under a closet, almost like it was porn, and people are now embracing it,” Lee told the Daily Mail.
It appears Lee has just started to scratch the surface, as she starred in her own TLC special, Dr. Pimple Popper: This is Zit, in 2018 and has a 12-episode reality TV show for the network in the works. For a little more insight on Lee and the videos that made her famous, here’s the untold truth of Dr. Pimple Popper.
Her videos are ‘bedtime lullabies’
Who needs Ambien when you have Dr. Pimple Popper? Lee said her oozing videos have been known to help viewers get some shut-eye. “Believe it or not, my videos are bedtime lullabies to many,” Lee shared in an interview with Lad Bible. The sound of her voice might have something to do with it. She’s heard it “has calming qualities, what people call ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response).” But she doesn’t alter her voice to create that tingling effect many find relaxing. Lee told Broadly that’s just how she talks.
Patients who suffer from obsessive skin-picking disorders also find the videos beneficial, according to Lee. She said in the Broadly interview that some patients who regularly watch her videos claim that they decrease their urges to pick their skin. “There’s a sense of completion, of cleansing,” she told Lad Bible. “It calms people with some obsessive compulsive tendencies.” Hey, whatever works.
She gets it from her dad
The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Lee’s father was also a dermatologist and exposed her to the profession at a young age. She told The One with Greg Gutfeld, “we would have textbooks sitting around the house, with the most crazy pictures in it. It just became normal to me. My dad would be reading a journal with somebody with some growth coming out of their head and I would be eating breakfast next to him.” That explains a lot.
Lee revealed on YouTube that she and her husband, Jeffrey Rebish, who also happens to be a dermatologist, took over the family business from her now-retired dad. “I think he had been waiting for a while… to retire,” she said, “and I feel kind of bad because I had so many years of training that I kind of kept him working for a little longer than I think he wished.” She credited dear ol’ dad for her calm bedside manner in an interview with The Cut and revealed on Instagram that he used to play the ukulele for his patients.
She’s a control freak
The days of Lee filming, editing and uploading every video herself using her iPhone and iMovie are no more. She now has a team helping her. But it took some getting used to, as Lee likes to be hands on with every aspect of the operation. “I have a little bit of a problem letting go because I feel like it’s my responsibility,” Lee told Mental Floss. “They’re my patients, and I try to keep them private and anonymous. If (the team leaves) something in accidentally, then I’ll feel really bad. But it’s harder and harder to (do every video).”
The reality show will prove to be an even bigger test for Lee. She’ll have less control due to the fact that she’ll be dealing with direction from producers and TLC. “This is really stressful for me and I think the reason is there’s a little sense of loss of control for me,” Lee said on YouTube. “… I am a control freak for sure.”
She jokes that she has the “worst kind of fame”
Lee isn’t exactly camera shy. Besides her TLC special, she has appeared on a wide range of shows, from the Today show to the Rachel Ray Show and Tosh.0. And that’s why it’s surprising to hear that Lee — who often steps in front of the cameras in her videos to discuss procedures and whatever else is going on in her life — isn’t entirely comfortable with her fame.
She told Broadly that she gets recognized so often in public that she wears a hat to the grocery store. “I joked this is worst kind of fame you can have — it’s a lot of fame, but not much fortune,” she said. “I think it’s better to have it the other way around, a lot of fortune and no fame, right?”
Her popularity spans the globe, with people traveling from as far as the UK and Saudi Arabia for treatment. But Lee isn’t entirely comfortable with these types of patients. “It puts a lot of pressure on me,” she told Broadly. “I don’t like it when people travel across the world and get a hotel room to come see me because they think I can help them more than other doctors. I don’t proclaim I can do that, though it is quite amazing.” Sounds like a good problem to have.
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