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.
As we mourn yet another weekend that went by far too quickly, we can find the smallest silver lining in the fact that a new episode of TLC’s beloved Dr. Pimple Popper aired last night. While your stomach might not be able to handle the exploding cysts we’ve come to expect, we’ve got you covered with a recap of the episode that introduces us to three new patients: Dennis, who’s had multiple bumps on his scalp since the ’90s; Juan, who has a genetic disorder that left him with growths around his nose; and Natalie, who Dr. Lee suspects might be dealing with something else entirely. Ahead, your handy recap of the third episode of this season.
Case #1: Dennis
Dennis, a 67-year-old motorcycle enthusiast, has to put his love of riding on hold because the cyst on the back of his head is too large to get the helmet down. After 20-plus years, the cyst is so large it’s made laying down to sleep painful — and his wife, Donna, is scared that she might lose him if he doesn’t get the growth checked out. “We’ve been together 32 years; I couldn’t imagine life without you. He’s been with me over half my life, he is my life,” she says through tears.
Dennis’ fear of doctors has kept him from seeing one regularly, but he makes the decision to trust Dr. Lee with removing his cysts. When she sees him in person, Dr. Lee’s eye widen as she admits this is the largest nodule she’s ever seen, and she nicknames it a “water balloon cyst” because of the liquid inflating it. Because the growth is located on his scalp, Dr. Lee has to be meticulous when cutting, so after sopping up blood and tying off some blood vessels, she stitches Dennis up and plans to see him in two days to remove the other three lumps.
The before-and-after images of his head will leave you speechless. Now Dennis can hit the road with Donna on their motorcycle and stay safe with his helmet in place.
Case #2: Juan
When Juan was just 10, he started noticing freckles on his face that turned into tumors as he got older. He’s had tuberous sclerosis, a genetic condition that causes benign tumors to grow on the body, since he was a child, but the bumps around his nose and the cyst on the side of his head keep him from hanging out with friends or spending much time outside. “It’s really hard for me to live with all this. I just want to have a normal life like everybody else,” he says, clearly emotional about the distress his condition has caused him. Both his dad and sister have their fingers crossed that this trip to Dr. Lee can change Juan’s life for the better, and save him from staying in to play video games. While he’s gone to dermatologists in the past, the topical prescriptions they gave him didn’t prove effective, so he’s hoping Dr. Lee can help him.
After Juan’s consultation, Dr. Lee deduces that he has angiofibromas, a cluster of benign tumors, on his nose, and uses an electrocautery tool to cut them off. She also manages to drain and cut out the cyst on the side of his head. “Having this clear now, it is going to give me confidence to pursue my dreams. Nothing is holding me back now. It’s my time to shine,” Juan says after surgery.
Case #3: Natalie
Natalie’s case is a standout one because Dr. Lee doesn’t actually end up having anything to cut, suture, or pop. Natalie is a 28-year-old Atlanta, Georgia, resident with raised, hyper-pigmented bumps on her arms, legs, and torso. She’s tried bleaching creams and cutting gluten from her diet, and still the itching and bumps persisted. After doing her own research, Natalie diagnosed herself with prurigo nodularis, a skin disease that causes hard, raised bumps to occur on the skin. But when Dr. Lee examines her body at the consultation, she comes to the conclusion that Natalie might be dealing with a psychological compulsion to scratch, which led to the raised bumps.
Even though the idea of potentially having an obsessive disorder scares Natalie, she’s willing to try the medicated bandages and steroid patches Dr. Lee sends her home with. After four weeks, the two check in with each other virtually and Dr. Lee notes the improvement. Hopefully, if Natalie continues with the methods Dr. Lee suggested, her skin will heal even more and allow her to finally feel comfortable in her own skin.
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