Dr. Pimple Popper's Season 3 Premiere Exposes the Dark Underside of Ear Piercing

Little has been done to alter the format of Dr. Pimple Popper in the wake of its Season 3 return, which aired Thursday. People still have giant growths sprouting off of them, Dr. Sandra Lee still has a toolbox of sharp objects with which to remove said growths, an unending capacity for food analogies (we got “butter-filled cysts” this week), and a bedside manner that would make the animated flatware and porcelain of Beauty and the Beast look like some junk in a box at a garage sale. (Who needs them anyway, when we’ve got Dr. PP encouraging us to, “Try the gray stuff, it’s delicious”?)

However, I noticed that the Season 3 premiere had more suspense than usual. Maybe I’ve grown more delicate over the past few months, maybe it was just the harrowing nature of these particular pops, or maybe it was some finessing on the side of the production (regarding the latter, the episode did end on a cliffhanger—more on that in a sec). Regardless, in addition to the usual pearl-clutching I do when I watch this show, I was also holding my breath—a stressful endeavor as it’s very hard to do two things at once.


This was never more true than during the removal of patient Jennifer’s ear keloids (they aren’t called “kearloids,” but they should be).

Jennifer is 29 and from Philadelphia. At the beginning of the show, she didn’t even know what her keloids were called and introduced her condition by saying, “I suffer from these things,” and motioning to her ears.

Results of ear-piercing infections, Jennifer’s kearloids were 11 years old (not girls, not yet women). They muffled her hearing, and their bouncing caused nausea and vertigo.

“Nobody wants to live in a life where they constantly just feel like they need to double over and throw up,” reported Jennifer. Hard to argue with that.


So she went to Dr. Pimple Popper, who removed the keloids, which necessitated also removing large portions of Jennifer’s ear, which in turn necessitated cauterization.

Nobody wants to live in a life where they constantly just feel like they need to double over and throw up, and yet I’ve watched every episode of this show.


Jennifer’s right ear (shown the first clip in this post) was particularly dicey because the keloids was attached to a considerable amount of surface area on that ear. Dr. PP said that the word for this is “sessile,” so in addition to almost passing out from the suspense as to whether Jennifer’s right-ear keloid went all the way through her ear and would require a drastic amputation (it didn’t), as well as the gore of it all, there was also an opportunity to learn a new word. This show is nothing if not multivalent.

A fun fact: Jennifer’s keloids weighed almost 14 ounces in total.


Anyway, after a mild radiation treatment to help prevent the keloids from growing back (which is common, especially because keloids result from trauma, and Dr. PP traumatized the shit out of Jennifer’s ears), Jennifer and her ears survived. Now she can pursue a professional career in cosplay, or “living the the dream,” as they call it.

Another highly suspenseful moment occurred as Juliet, 51, had a row of steatocystomas removed (a fun fact, I guess, is that this episode’s title was “Sleepless in Steatocystoma,” as Juliet hails from Bothell, Washington, which is about 20 miles outside Seattle). Dr. PP had to remove the designer-soap-like pus while being careful not to knick the vein said steatocystomas were sitting on.

And finally, there was Gerald, a 33-year-old crossing guard with a giant bump on his left middle finger.


His opening package was rather rude.


And then, adding insult to injury, Dr. PP rejected him, saying this went further than a skin condition and thus was beyond her scope as a dermatologist. With foreboding music and soap-opera gravitas, the episode ended with a question mark—could Dr. Pimple Popper find someone to help Gerald?

(She could—the direct next sequence was of a Season 3 preview, and in a coming episode it’s clear that Dr. PP called in another doctor for backup and is not abandoning Gerald because our precious angel doctor would never.)


So that’s all thrilling. This week’s food analogies included the aforementioned butter-filled cysts, birdseed, and a sweet pea.

Gonna be a great season, I can feel it.

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Rich Juzwiak

Some Pig. Terrific. Radiant. Humble.