I had it done not because of beauty, but because it was a necessity.
Several weeks ago, I visited my dermatologist and she asked me about a tiny mole she’d notice on my chest. I told her it did not bother me, because it was so tiny (I think it was only about 1mm in diameter) and I didn’t even remember when it appeared, plus it wasn’t raised at all. She told me the fact that it wasn’t raised was a concern, because based on the shape and color of the mole, she was worried it could be something more dangerous than just a mere mole. So she suggested getting a skin biopsy done.
I told her the mole had been there for as long as I could remember and I asked if a biopsy was really necessary, but she insisted and said that it was important to check the cells to make sure it wasn’t melanoma. I told her I was prone to keloids, so she said she would only scrape off a very superficial layer of skin for the biopsy.
After a week or so, my dermatologist called me with the results of the skin biopsy. She told me my mole was something called a dysplastic nevus, or also known as an atypical mole. A dysplastic nevus is a pigmented skin lesion that has some atypical cells. While mine was a benign one, there was 50% chance of atypical moles developing into melanoma.
Melanoma is a malignant tumor of melanocytes. Melanocytes produce the dark pigment melanin, which is responsible for the color of skin. Melanoma is less common than other skin cancers. However, it is much more dangerous if it is not found early. If melanoma is found early, while it is still small and thin, and if it is completely removed, then the chance of cure is high. The likelihood of the melanoma coming back or spreading depends on how deeply it has gone into the layers of the skin. (Source)
My dermatologist recommended that I have my mole removed in its entirety as soon as possible, so I did.
My mole removal procedure was performed last Wednesday. It was just a 10-minute procedure, where the area was first injected with some local anesthesia. Then, there was a drilling sound much like what you’d hear at your dentist. I was aware of the mole removal being done but I did not look.
After the entire mole was removed, my dermatologist stitched the wound up. She put in internal stitches which were dissolvable, and three external stitches. On top of them, I also had some Steristrips placed. I would be seeing her this Friday to have those three external stitches removed.
It actually felt good to remove the mole, and I did ask my dermatologist what it was that drew her attention to that mole in the first place. I do see a dermatologist back in Malaysia as well, but I was curious as to why my dermatologist in Malaysia had not suggested a biopsy too.
My US dermatologist said it could probably be because the mole had changed since then, because sometimes moles do change over time.
In any case, my US dermatologist explained that everyone should constantly be aware and suspicious of new moles or old moles that change on their bodies. Things to look out for in moles that could warrant suspicion are summarized in a simple ABCD mnemonic.
Studies have shown that moles do not generally develop after age 30, so I’d only need to be vigilant if there are any changes to existing moles. The dermatologist says it’s a good thing I don’t have many moles on my body, but that when I am back in Malaysia, I should still regularly see a dermatologist for reviews and checkups.
So if you don’t already know, in addition to monthly breast self-examinations, take some time to check your moles too. You never know, it might save your life.