Saturday, April 20, 2024

Why the Moles I’ve Removed Keep Coming Back to Haunt Me

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I didn’t get a scar but, over the course of 30 years, what I did get was the same mole. It’s not quite as raised as it was when I was on the JV tennis team, but it is very much visible and tangible. And I am very much displeased.

“When a mole is treated with a shave removal, often the part of the mole that is removed is at or above the surface,” New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD, tells me. “Since some of the mole is typically still present below the surface, there is always the chance that it returns.”

And some moles are all the more likely to make a triumphant return after being shaved off. According to Connecticut-based dermatologist Deanne Mraz, MD, there are different types of moles in which the cells are dermal — or deeper — at the junction of the epidermis and dermis. “There are also moles we have had since birth, or congenital, in which the mole cells track even deeper down the hair follicles,” she explains. “In essence, the deeper the mole cells go, the more likely they are to repopulate and for the mole to regrow.”

Speaking of hair follicles, interestingly (to me, at least), the mole next to my nose was never a hair-sprouter. However, the one situated under the left side of my mouth, kind of in the chin area, was a prolific producer of hair. That’s not the main reason I removed that one — I never minded plucking, I just preferred having one noticeable mole instead of two. And when the time came to remove it in my late twenties, I decided to risk a scar and remove it via punch biopsy.

“A punch biopsy goes deeper than a shave biopsy to gather cells from the epidermis, dermis, and the top layer of fat under the skin,” Dr. Mraz says, adding that it’s not unusual to need stitches to close the resulting wound. It’s also not unusual to get a little scar, which I did. And while it was one more way a mole leaves a legacy, I didn’t mind that scar until I realized that the same cluster of coarse hairs was pushing its way through the scar and immediately-surrounding skin. “It is not unusual to see the hairs continue to poke through after a mole is removed,” Dr. Mraz says. Oh, but it sure is annoying.

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