On Appearances

Wednesday, I went to the dermatologist.

There’s a lot of TMI in here.  Just a heads up.

I had a few moles I wanted to get checked out.

There was one in particular that I’ve had for my whole life, at least as far as I can remember.  It’s on my cheek right next to my left ear and it’s easily disguised by my hair.  I bet most of you haven’t even noticed it.  I don’t ever purposely to post pictures that hide it because 99% of the time, I forget it is there.  However, when my hair is back, I suppose it’s quite noticeable.  And I do wear my hair back quite a bit.  It’s brown, raised and about 1 cm in diameter and I admit if I saw it on someone else, it would be hard to ignore.  While junior high mean girls had caused me grief over having moles, or the occasional child asking about it, it didn’t bother me much.

Photobucket
Photobucket

Still…

Once in a while, it did get caught or irritated and yes, made me feel insecure and possibly ugly.  When I was in high school, I’d had it looked at before and considered getting it removed.  In the end, I sort of made a decision by not making a decision.  I never ended up removing it because the thought of scarring and a bandaid on my face seemed worse.

But recently, a sweet little 3 year old in my Sunday school class asked about it.  A little embarrassed despite the fact that it was a harmless question, I explained that I was born with it.  But it did give me pause and again I realized how other people probably do notice it.

Despite the fact that we aren’t supposed to “care what other people think”, we all do to a certain extent.  I do.  A lot of the time I don’t, but everyone has their weak spots.  I didn’t want a mole to be what people remembered about me.  I doubt that people (who matter) remembered me for that reason but it was an insecurity.

I really did have a few darker moles I was concerned about for health reasons since I admittedly use tanning beds occasionally.  (*insert groans/scolding here*)  The more I thought about it, the more I figured I could kill two birds with one stone.

And I decided.

I was certain this time, there was no changing my mind.

Wednesday I showed up for my appointment.  I was surprised at how nervous I was.  I got a full body mole check and was given a clean bill of health.  Yay!  Then we talked about THE mole.  They told me the risks involved: it could grow back, infection, scarring. The physicians assistant explained that they simply slice the mole clean off with a scalpel, no stitches needed.

I said yes, I’m ready to remove it.

I was terrified I was going to feel pain.  The anticipation is almost always worse isn’t it?  At this point, the nurse had me lay down and injected the anesthetic into the side of my face.  I wondered how many nerves are in that area, because I barely felt anything.  When she was done, I couldn’t even feel any pressure.  Whew.

Then I lay there for what seemed like forever, agonizing over the physicians assistant coming back into the examining room and removing THE mole.  I considered making a break for it… kind of.  Finally, he and the nurse returned.

No going back now.

And just like that, I saw him hand something to the nurse.  He placed a bandaid gently on my cheek and said cheerfully “All done!”

That was it?

It was over in about 10 seconds.  I didn’t feel ANYTHING.  I mean duh, that’s what the anesthetic was for, and I’m pretty sensitive to the stuff.  I realized how silly I was so be so fearful.

The nurse explained to me how to take care of the “biopsy site” to ensure little to no scarring and I was sent on my way.

While at a stoplight on my way home, I peeked into the rearview mirror at the place next to my ear where the bandaid was.  I felt like I didn’t recognize myself.  It was strange not to see a mole there, and know that there was no longer a mole there.  As silly as it sounds, I kind of felt like I had kind of lost a part of myself.  I guess that I had.  But “loss” is the wrong word.  But that’s what I had wanted.  Yes, I confirmed, I was 100% sure I had wanted the mole removed.

I called my mom.

Besides the fact that she’s my mom, she’d had a mole removed from her chin a few years back.  I wondered if she’d had that same strange feeling.  It went to voicemail and I left a rambling message.  (We did talk later that night.)

Then, I wondered to myself: how to people get cosmetic surgery??  This was such a tiny change to my image, I wondered how people felt after something more serious, like a nose job or a breast enhancement.  You know, a much larger, noticeable change.

I started to understand.  This mole had bothered me for years and years more than I may have realized.  Despite the fact that I was glad it was gone, it made me feel a little silly, a little vain.  It was only a mole after all.

The change, to me, was worth it.

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Photobucket

Yup, the slightly random bandaid on the face.

It was a quite achy the first night but no pain since.  I have to clean it twice a day, and apply antibacterial ointment to prevent a scab that would cause scarring.  Looking at it that first time was scary.  I’m getting used to it though.  It’s not as gross as I thought it would be.

Even though confidence is supposed to start from within, there’s something to be said about confidence in the way you look.  Like it or not it’s kind of the world we live in.  And maybe it’s just me, but I tend to judge myself a lot harder than other people.

The moral of the story is that looks aren’t everything and we shouldn’t judge those who opt to change them.  I know that seems a little contradictory, but  I think understand why some people change their appearance.  Sometimes people become obsessed in negative ways, but a lot of the time, they’re just looking for acceptance.  Probably from themselves.

Update:  As I figured, the mole came back benign (no cancer) but it was a good reminder to take care of my skin and protect it from the sun!

Have you ever change anything about your appearance?  Would you?

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5 thoughts on “On Appearances

  1. This is funny Meg cuz I had that mole over my ear (but mine was in my hair and stuck out with my hair up) removed like a month and a half ago. Only mine took 7 stitches and did have to heal up with a scab. but yes I agree.. moles are annoying and mine always would get caught on my comb and be pesky so finally I just got it removed.. so glad that I did too!

  2. Meg, this is beautifully and thoughtfully written! I'm so glad you made a decision that you feel good about. It sounds like you've thought about this for a long time, and after considering the advantages and disadvantages, went with your heart. Even though my dad's a dermatologist, I've always been extremely frightened of going under the knife! However, if there was something that I really wanted to change, I think I'd do it. You're so right about not judging others…What we do with our bodies is 100% up to us! And I think as long we seek satisfaction with ourselves, NOT acceptance from others, it's perfectly "okay." :-)I hope everything heals well! Love you! xoxo

  3. wow. i can relate. i had a mole right smack dab on the middle of my nose and the mean girls gave me hell.. and the mean girls were in my circle of friends. i made my parents pay $1800 for me to have 11 moles removed. it was $1800 because i insisted to have anesthetic so i wouldnt have to watch a knife dig into my face (there were 4 on my face). i have scars on my face now from when they were removed (i was 18, so it was 10 years ago) i have drafted a post about this before, but haven't ever published it.. saving it for a rainy day, i guess. glad you posted about your sitch!

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