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Dr. Pimple Popper gets Gerald out of his ‘strawberry jam,’ hand surgeon frees Chicago dad from huge tumor

Gerald is more nervous about anesthesia than the surgery. Pic credit: TLC
Gerald is more nervous about anesthesia than the surgery. Pic credit: TLC

On last night’s Dr. Pimple Popper, Dr. Lee helped the man she sent home last week, afraid to cut into his finger lump.  It was a cliffhanger as Gerald was hopeful she could help him, but she couldn’t.

All kidding aside, the food analogies that Dr. Sandra Lee uses to describe cyst contents are pretty funny on paper, but for Chicago father Gerald, it was a total letdown last week as he was sent home with no resolution to his enormous finger bump. It was so large he could not put on gloves over his hands, and in frigid Chicago, that’s a fate worse than death.

This is why this show is head and shoulders above so many reality series – Dr. Lee offers people of modest means with little or no health insurance a chance to get rid of unsightly lumps that no other doctors want to bother with. She changes lives and gives people a sense of self and happiness once again.

But back to Gerald…there’s a happy ending to all this unsightly tumor business. Read on.

Gerald’s diagnosis

Gerald’s mystery finger lump was addressed by peer and friend Dr. James Lilley, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hand surgery. And for Gerald, this expertise truly changed his life.

“When something is this big, we always worry about cancer,” he said after reviewing the films. “This is a one in twenty-year thing that we see,” he said, noting the vascular nature of the tumor.

Dr. Lee conceded her patient’s problem was beyond her surgical scope.

“I’m a dermatologist, I only go skin deep,” she said.

The problem for Gerald was the vascular nature of this tumor, meaning the blood supply and the nerves were entwined with the actual tumor to the point it could cause permanent damage if an inexperienced doctor attempted to unravel and excise the lump.

Luckily for Gerald, Dr. Lilley is a pro.

Gerald’s problem was that the veins and nerves were really jumbled up and Dr. Lilley needed to sever the right nerves and preserve the ones that control the entire finger. It takes real knowledge of anatomy to do a surgery like this. These nerves in the finger are described by Dr. Lee as “glass noodles” to give a description of the size.

Dr. Lilley explained that nerves were white and veins were red-purple to differentiate.

Gerald’s prognosis

The finger was completely restored. Pic credit: TLC

Gerald’s finger tumor was completely removed and sent to pathology.

Dr. Lilley said it was likely a hamartoma or a choristoma, but he was not sure. Dr. Lee poked inside the tumor and described the contents like “strawberry jam.”

Gerald’s incision was neatly done and he woke up relieved to see the lump was gone. Later, he is shown putting on gloves.

Gerald’s life before and after

In the Dr. Pimple Popper episode prior, we saw how Gerald was at his wit’s end with the lump and how his wife worried for him. He was constantly made fun of by people who could not help but notice the unsightly growth.

Nervous about anesthesia, he said prior to the surgery. “If I wake up and this bump’s still on my finger, I’m just really going to throw in the towel,” Gerald said. “If this can’t solve it nothing can.”

Dr. Lee said, “We want to remove it [tumor] entirely so we can at least ensure that it is all out.”

“We can see the vessels, it’s a pretty vascular tumor,” Dr. Lilley explained during the surgery. “Okay start going into the minefield.”

The surgery revealed an intact tumor. “It’s a good capsule.” Dr. Pimple Popper said. “It wasn’t something that was going to become a mess.”

After the surgery, Gerald had a normal hand with the ability to bend and extend his finger with no issues.

Dr. Pimple Popper airs Thursdays at 9/8c on TLC.

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April is an accredited entertainment writer, interviewer and television critic. She is a current member of the Television Critics Association (TCA), Gay and Lesbian Entertainment... read more
April Neale
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