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.
Dr. Pimple Popper is a wrestler in her own right: We’ve watched her yank and tug at the most stubbornly-rooted lipomas, painstakingly cutting away blubbery fat, piece by tiny piece. She always wins in the end, but the doctor was overdue for the kind of simple and insanely satisfying pop that first earned her such a loyal following, which is exactly what she got in the ninth episode of the second season: Mic Drop Pop.
From Josh and his fascinating forehead knot to Britteny and her face covered in wart-like bumps, read on to find out all about this episode’s four deserving patients — and the surgery that’ll make you breathe out a sigh of relief.
Case #1: Josh
The first case of the day takes us to Woodbine, Georgia, where we meet 36-year-old Josh, who has a bulging knot on the side of his head popping out just above his left eyebrow. Josh’s bump is not so much a mystery as a constant reminder of an accident he suffered nearly two decades ago. "When I was 19, I was in a head-on car wreck," Josh explains. "I cracked my skull and cheekbone, broke my jaw and my femur, shattered my kneecap — they pronounced me dead on arrival." Josh miraculously survived the crash, but after a series of surgeries to repair his head, a bump started growing. It was small at first, but has since grown to the size of a golf ball.
Seventeen years later, Josh desperately wants to live a life without the growth on his forehead — which is also a constant reminder of the traumatic crash — so he heads to L.A. to see Dr. Lee. At the consult, the doctor is pretty sure she knows what’s going on beneath the knot. "I’m guessing that it’s a cyst under there," she says. "My main concern is removing this guy without leaving him with a lot of extra skin." The challenge is to remove Josh’s cyst and also find a way to fold the stitches into his forehead so they aren’t so noticeable.
In surgery, Dr. Lee marks up Josh’s head, then starts slicing into the egg-like knot with her scalpel. With a small squeeze between her forefingers, white, buttery pus begins squirting out, confirming Dr. Lee’s suspicion that Josh’s bump is an epidermoid cyst. The oozing pus starts as a skinny, stringy consistency but becomes a thick, heavy flow of wet skin cells that Dr. Lee compares to warm grits. With the growth gone and Josh sewn up, he walks out with minor swelling and a soon-to-be-smooth forehead.
Case #2: TJ
TJ, a 30-year-old car salesman, has a calcified bump growing under his armpit. He describes the misshapen growth as an alien trapped in his chest, trying to punch a hole through his side — but it’s not so much funny as it is embarrassing. "The lump actually sticks out from under my shirt," TJ says. "I’ve tried everything from using a Band-Aid to stick it up against my skin so it’s less noticeable, to wearing two shirts to try and hide it. But I’m scared that this thing could be life-threatening, so I’ve been putting off seeing a doctor."
TJ shows Dr. Lee his armpit boob (his words, not ours) at his consultation, explaining that she’s the first doctor he’s seen about it. "It’s really common for my patients to put off a skin bump out of embarrassment or fear, letting it grow bigger and bigger," Dr. Lee says. "But I can tell that this bump is starting to bother TJ, especially because it’s as hard as a rock. As soon as I touch it, I’m confused, because it’s not a lipoma or a cyst. I’ve actually never seen a lump this large or this jagged growing on someone’s side."
Down to solve the mystery, Dr. Lee takes TJ to surgery. She strategically slices around the lump with her scalpel — which is a different approach than she normally takes, slicing straight across. "This bump is hardened, so I can’t cut into it, and I have to go around it," Dr.Lee says of her technique. TJ’s growth is wedged under the skin, so Dr. Lee has to yank it up and out with her fingers. She holds what looks like a gummy flap of flesh dripping with blood and severs it off, right at the base of TJ’s armpit.
After the mass has been excised, Dr. Lee wagers a guess that it’s a case of pilomatricoma, a rare type of cyst composed of calcium, which gives it that bone-like, chalky appearance. Luckily, it’s a benign growth, and TJ walks out, happy to be rid of that "alien" punching out of his armpit.
Case #3: Britteny
Memphis, Tennessee, is where we meet 31-year-old Britteny, who has wart-like bumps all over her body that present fleshy moles. The growths, which cover Britteny’s face, neck, and arms, are not subtle — and they’re seemingly impossible to remove. "I’ve tried plenty of home remedies — tea bags, tying rubber bands around the big ones to try and cut the circulation off — but nothing works," Britteny says. I’ve been to multiple doctors, and they’ve told me there’s nothing they can do about it. It broke my heart."
Britteny has been engaged to be married for two years now, but she’s been putting it off because of her condition. So she makes the trip to see Dr. Lee, hoping she can smooth her face and give her the confidence to finally go dress-shopping. But at the consultation, Dr. Lee’s a little perplexed by the consistency of Britteny’s skin tag-like growths. "These bumps feel almost rubbery, flexible, and spongey," she says. "When you push them in, they kind of bounce right back out."
Without a definitive diagnosis, Dr. Lee brings Britteny to surgery to try and remove the lumps that are the most debilitating. She cuts away all the gummy little flaps of skin on Britteny’s arms, forehead, cheeks, and neck, and collects them all in a basin to send for pathology. The post-surgery transformation moves Britteny to tears. When the lab results come back weeks later, Dr. Lee is able to confirm that Brittney has a condition called neurofibromatosis, explaining that it’s incurable and a life-long journey to control, but she gives her the tools she needs to treat any future growths. And with that, Britteny is finally ready to walk down the aisle.
Case #4: Luis
We meet 43-year-old Luis on the beach in southern California. Luis has a large, six-year-old bump that he calls Fred growing on top of his right shoulder. "He started as the size of a pea, but has gotten bigger, and to the point that I’m really uncomfortable," Luis says. "My daughters have named the lump Fred to make it easier to live with, but since Fred has gotten to be so big, he’s become a pain."
Luis has put off seeing a doctor for fear of a fatal diagnosis. "My father passed away of cancer at a young age and one of the first symptoms he saw was a collection of lumps on his body, so that makes me very anxious," Luis says. "I just want to get rid of Fred, evict him from my body, and get the answers I need."
At his consultation, Luis explains his concerns about the mass. In feeling around, Dr. Lee is pretty sure Fred is a big, classic lipoma, and she’s excited to head into surgery. First, she numbs Luis’s shoulder and begins cutting across the lump to strategize her pop. "When I feel around Fred, it feels like he could slide out with one squeeze, because he doesn’t seem to be attached to any underlying surfaces," Dr. Lee says. She pushes at both sides and out plops a squishy ball of what looks like rubbery chicken fat. It’s one of the most satisfying excisions, and Dr. Lee is amped that she got it in one squeeze: a real "mic drop" pop.
That concludes episode nine, but we’ll be back next week for the tenth — and final — episode of the second season. Tune in for what’s sure to be a can’t-miss finale.
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Source: Refinery29 – Megan Decker