So, this is a big confession. I had plastic surgery last week. Kind of. Well, a plastic surgeon cut on my face, though the last time I had this same thing done (a mole removal from my face), it was a family practice doc that did it, so does it still count? It sounds a bit more superficial and flakey (and makes for good copy) if I say it was plastic surgery I guess, but really I had a big, super obvious mole removed.
We all have things that we love and hate about our bodies. Those may (or may not) be the things that you liked or disliked growing up, and they may not be the same ones that anyone else would pick for you. We’re also all our own worst critics.
Growing up, I was definitely kind of awkward. After about age 12 I was very tall and skinny. A size zero at 5’9″ and definitely not coordinated. I was smart, and looking back I think I was definitely pretty, but more often than not I went to the high school dance with a group of girl friends and the one time that I had a date to my high school homecoming it was with a (still closeted) guy friend. I had a lot of insecurities!
When I started 15 Minute Beauty Fanatic at the age of 29, I still had many of those same insecurities, though they had grown up a bit. I was no longer a zero (thank goodness! I look and feel much better as an eight), and while I’m still not very coordinated I can walk a little more gracefully now. I’ve grown into my features a bit.
Ironically, blogging about my obsession with beauty products, made me feel much more comfortable about many of those insecurities, especially since I started showing my face on the blog. (I was incognito for my previous job, this was pre-summer 2009.) I used to think my nose was huge, my eyes were too big for my face, my lips too thin, etc. Maybe it’s writing publicly about beauty and letting everyone see (and comment, which yes, they do) all of those things. Maybe it is just being in my 30’s, I’m really not sure. But, those same features that I hated so much as a teen are now ones that I fully accept. They’re just me.
One thing that I wasn’t really comfortable with is the mole on the side of my nose. It’s been there as long as I can remember, but it has probably grown to 2-3x it’s previous “stable” size over the last 4 or 5 years, especially in the last 2 years. I feel like this mole is growing and changing on my face, and it truly made me start hiding from the camera. You can look in my iPhoto and notice that my head is frequently turned so it wouldn’t show to the camera. I was cropping pictures so it wouldn’t show up, and even worse, for the last couple of months I’ve been photoshopping it so it was less obvious. (It was still there, but I was making any light hitting it less bright so it was there, but not such a beacon of “look at me, the giant mole”.)
Basically, it was changing my behavior and I didn’t like that. Bring in the fact that I’ve had 2 body parts biopsied in the last 2 years (I’m not quite ready to talk about those episodes), and another growing entity on my body could be pre-cancerous too… yeah, I wanted it gone!
So, during a routine physical this fall, I asked my primary care doctor about it. I’d had a mole removed from the tip of my nose while in residency (in So Cal), and it wasn’t a big deal. My family practice doctor had done a punch biopsy, thrown in a stitch and that was it. I even removed my own stitch.
For this mole, my new internal medicine/pediatrics guy thought I needed a referral to plastics (I asked for derm, he refused and sent me to plastics). Why? My mole was at the size (about 6 mm across) that it was a pretty difficult removal. There was the possibility that the scar would be hard to hide. So, off to plastics I went.
So, after many scheduling issues (I’m busy, the surgeon was busy, and once the power went out for the surgical center on the day my mole removal was scheduled), last week I finally had my mole removed. The PA had talked about flaps and such in the office, but the surgeon thought I’d be a quick in and out under local. But, I still had to go to the OR to do it. Last week I spent about 30 minutes in one, with most of my face under surgical drapes, while they cut it off of my nose. I had 5 stitches, one of which was a deep, inside stitch with a dissolvable suture.
I was instructed to keep it out of water for about 48 hours, put bacitracin on it 2x a day, and the surgeon told me to cover it with a bandaid at work. He didn’t want strange ICU bacteria getting in there. On Monday I had my stitches taken out. In the close up of it to the right, it still has a little bit of swelling, and they took off a tiny scab when they removed the stitches. But overall, it looks really good! The incision was right into the curve of my nostril, so it should hide any scar very easily.
After my sutures were out, I was instructed to take care of the site a little differently, primarily for scar prevention.
• Massage the area 2-3 times a day for a few minutes.
Using a clean finger, push down and firmly move the whole side of my nose in little circles. You’re not rubbing, but really just moving the whole area around. And don’t press too hard, it’s about half the pressure you apply to help a bloody nose. This helps bring down swelling by promoting lymphatic drainage.
• Apply Vitamin E or a “good moisturizer” to the area.
I’ve opted for neither of those options, but instead for Kate Somerville, D-Scar. It has a bunch of other ingredients good for scars, so I have high hopes! I’ll update you on the progress later.
This is definitely true. I tell my patients (our ICU is the peds burn unit for the city) that the best way to prevent scarring (or at least minimize it) is to be a crazy sunscreen person for the first year after any insult. It’s true for my patient’s burns and it is true for my surgical scar.
I’m already a bit crazy with the sunscreen, but I’ll keep using my favorite sunscreens. First, my favorite Kiehl’s goes all over (I don’t even know how many times I’ve repurchased that stuff, it’s pretty amazing) and then if I’m heading outside with my daughter to play, I’ll be wiping a little of the Murad on my nose. That one has a lower SPF but is really meant for prominent areas like the nose, since it is a balm that will really stay put and I’ll be able to easily apply (and reapply) as needed. They both have the same active sunscreen ingredients (see below) and of course now that I’m writing this, I’m noticing the UVA II gap. Hmmm….
So, yes. I’ve confessed, to probably what is the closest I’ll ever get to real plastic surgery. My surgeon joked during my procedure that a lot of people “decide they need to be parted from their mole” and it was just my time. It’s been about 9 days now, and I admit it is strange to not see the bump in the mirror or to feel it on my nose at all. I doubt that I’ll ever have anything really done as I get older. I have good genes (you should see my mom, I’m lucky!) and I’m a sunscreen girl that doesn’t smoke. Beyond that, I’m busy earning every wrinkle I get. In the future though, look for more pictures of me looking to the left instead of the right!
Product Sent for Review
Note, 2 of the products mentioned were sent for review (I’ve purchased the Kiehl’s about 10 times, I’m not sure that it was ever sent from PR) and the medical procedure discussed was paid for by me.