Why I Got a Mole Reduction Instead of a Mole Removal


For someone who had been assured by multiple dermatologists for multiple decades that my mole was of the low-risk variety, the sudden bleeding came as a frightening shock. I checked to make sure I hadn’t accidentally scratched it — negative — and I hadn’t plucked a hair from it recently. So what the actual hell was making my mole bleed without any apparent injury? When it happened again the next afternoon, I got in touch with New York City-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner to help me figure out what was going on and what we should do about it.

“Any time a patient reports that a mole is changing, it needs to be given special attention,” Zeichner recalls. “In your case, I decided that a biopsy should be performed to make sure that the change in size, as well as the bleeding, did not represent a cancerous change.”

Immediately, I was like, Well, shit. This isn’t good, because even if the results show nothing scary, the biopsy itself meant immediately and permanently changing the appearance of my beloved mole. This is because Zeichner would be extracting the sample by using a punch tool, which is basically a tiny cookie cutter that takes out a cylinder of skin from the core of the mole. That, of course, means it would have to be stitched up, changing its size and shape. But the other option would have been essentially shaving the whole thing off, and Zeicher, knowing I didn’t want a full removal, decided on this technique in hopes of not only salvaging the mole, but ultimately reshaping it into something closer in size to my middle-school-era mark.

At first, though, I was left with an oblong mole — a noncancerous one, thank goodness — with an obvious demarcation where it had been stitched together (pictured below). I have to admit, as happy I was to still have my mole, I wasn’t thrilled with its new shape. I looked forward to going back to Zeichner to try to make it rounder, but I actually put it off for a while, I think because I was worried that the second procedure wouldn’t give me the results I wanted, and that I’d ultimately have to remove it.

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