You probably don't need me to tell you that there are some truly unspeakable things lurking on the internet.

For every cute or funny cat picture found online, there are approximately 1,000 other things ready to haunt your dreams, including the YouTube channel of Dr Sandra Lee, a California-based dermatological surgeon who spends her days removing lumps and cysts from her patients' skin.

Also known as Dr Pimple Popper, Dr Lee uses her online channel to share videos of blackhead extractions and gnarly-looking cysts being drained – and they are wildly popular.

Her official YouTube page has almost four million subscribers. Her videos, with titles including 'Blackheads for Dayzzzz', 'Sweet and Sour Chicken Lipoma' and – deep breath –
'A Forehead Cyst That Spit On Me', have been watched more than one billion times.


Next week, the country gets to enjoy all this and more via a Dr Pimple Popper special, with her one-hour show getting its New Zealand television premiere on TLC. And by 'enjoy', I mean 'stare at the TV in horror, while trying not to vomit all over the couch'.

Dr Sandra Lee, more commonly known as Dr Pimple Popper. Photo / Supplied
Dr Sandra Lee, more commonly known as Dr Pimple Popper. Photo / Supplied

Given it's probably hard to make an hour-long show out of simply squeezing blackheads (or not, with the massive YouTube numbers watching exactly that), this Dr Pimple Popper special is reserved for some real big ticket items: four patients whose large skin growths are inhibiting their lives.

As Dr Lee reaches for her scalpel and squirt-protective face mask to help these folks, I tentatively reach for my spew bucket.

We have 25-year-old single mother, Brenda, whose golf ball-sized lump on her forehead is giving her anxiety attacks, affecting her relationships and stopping her from applying for certain jobs.

Thirty-year-old Angelina, meanwhile, has a massive lipoma (a slow-growing fatty lump, in case you were wondering) on her stomach, which she goes to extreme lengths to conceal. (Even her boyfriend of eight months still hasn't seen it.)

As the good doctor begins to remove this particular five-year-old lump, she tells Angelina: "We need to prepare ourselves for this." I feel like she's speaking to me, too, although I don't think anything can prepare me for what they pull out of this poor woman.

"It looks like boneless chicken," Angelina says as she gazes in wonder at the mass she's just had removed from her body. I guess I'm never eating poultry ever again.

Then there's Carla, the most cheerful woman you ever did meet. She's travelled to California all the way from Mississippi in order to visit the famous Dr Pimple Popper from her favourite YouTube videos. (I don't know about you, but I also like to choose my medical practitioners based on their YouTube channel.)


Carla tells us all about the various pilar cysts she has on her scalp, some of which she's had for the better part of 35 years. They even have names.

As Dr Lee gets to work on Carla and describes the smell of a cyst that's nearly as old as I am, my hand hovers ever closer to the vomit bucket.

Dr Lee examines a large lump on Delano's back. Photo / Supplied
Dr Lee examines a large lump on Delano's back. Photo / Supplied

Finally, there is Delano, a 30-year-old man who's been struggling for a decade with a large lump covering much of his upper back. The massive growth has affected his self-esteem and his job prospects, subsequently leaving him homeless for a time.

Delano's case proves to be a bit of a medical mystery, but it's one that Dr Lee is determined to unravel.

It's safe to say there are plenty of people walking among us who get real satisfaction from watching various skin growths being popped and squeezed. It's also safe to say I am not one of them. But stories like Delano's elevate this TLC special to something much more than mere pimple-popping porn.

Over the course of this one episode, Dr Lee is working to completely transform the lives of four people, to give them their self-confidence back and, in the case of Delano, try to figure out why their body is doing this to them.

It truly is serious, life-changing stuff to behold on screen – even if you do want to bathe your traumatised eyes in bleach by the time the final credits roll.

Dr Pimple Popper airs Monday, July 30 at 8.30pm on Sky's TLC