Lip Mole Removal
Did you know that you can get a mole on your lip if you don’t protect your pucker from the sun?
Yet again, you can use my face as a cautionary tale. But as you can see in the after picture above, this story has a happy ending thanks to my fairy god mother god mother of skin, dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett! As well, this story has a romantic twist…to kick off our new Wedding Prep series, I’d like to make an announcement…
For the sake of protecting my fiancé’s privacy, going forward, I will refer to him as “Dr. Rad” (he is, indeed, a radical doctor). Now that I have the man of my dreams, it’s prime time to work on getting the skin of my dreams! Over the next few months I will be blogging about my concerted efforts to get my spotty complexion into the best condition that it has ever been in. I have a little less than one year to do it, so it’s going to be a journey paved with copious amounts of Kellett Skincare…
Plus some lash-enhancing Latisse thrown in because I don’t want to wear strip lashes on my big day, as I know my tears of joy will wash them right off! A lash strip would probably end up sticking underneath my nose, giving me a Hitler ‘stache, knowing my luck.
Since there is a limit to the improvements you can get with topical products alone, I will also be increasing my visits to DLK on Avenue, the Yorkville-based skin castle of Dr. Kellett. According to one of my favourite magazine editors, Alison McGill, the Editor-In-Chief of Weddingbells (another thing I’m upping!), “DLK on Avenue is one of the premiere spots in Toronto for everyday skincare and is definitely a must-visit pre-wedding for gorgeous glowing skin. Dr. Lisa Kellet and her team of skin saviors will prescribe the perfect treatment and home care regime to ensure you skin looks incredible for your wedding day. A visit to DLK was a must on my wedding to-do list—I had an Oxygen Facial two days before my big day and my skin never looked better!”
Alison’s skin is a milky flawless dream, so I’m definitely going to follow her pre-game lead.
How long should it take to get your skin wedding day ready? Ideally the skin saviours at DLK on Ave recommend brides-to-be give themselves one year before the big day. That allows enough time to do multiple treatments to reap the cumulative benefits, and to refine your at-home skin care protocol to maximize the effects of your clinical care. For example, building up your skin’s tolerance to Dr. Kellett’s powerful 1% retinol serum (pictured below).
After all Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is good skin. Truth is you cannot expect to see dramatic results after just one or two treatments. That’s like expecting the see the world, but only travelling to Buffalo. The more treatments you do, the more improvements you will see. I can vouch for that! My acne scarring and pores are noticeably better after a year of getting Profractional laser resurfacing and Lumenis One photofacials. But my skin is not quite where I want it to be yet.
I’m excited to have you, dear reader, along for my transformative journey to better skin! Dr. Kellett and her experienced and caring team will use the best in non-invasive technology to take my face from blah to bodacious. I’ll kick it off by telling you about my most recent procedure: Lip mole removal.
How I got a mole on my lip anyway
For the longest time my lips were my only facial feature that had not been marked by Father Time, that jerk. I’ve always been told that I’m lucky to have the full lip shape that people pay good money for…
Where did I go wrong? Well…
In my teens and twenties I never wore lip balms with sun protection, nor was I much of a lipstick wearer. Apparently lipstick actually provides an effective shield against UV rays, says Dr. Kellett. What probably made my situation worse was the fact that I went on an excessive amount of sun vacations in my twenties. From Mexico to Ibiza, I sunbathed with tanning oil and used nothing but Vaseline on my lips, naively thinking that petroleum jelly was adequate protection. I recall one particular vacation in 2009 with friends in Puerto Vallarta when my lips got so badly sunburned that I had to rent a bicycle to travel ten minutes outside of the resort to get medicine from the local pharmacy. In retrospect, that situation probably kickstarted the melanin production underneath my lower lip that would eventually surface as this…
What started as a small spot that resembled a fleck of ground black pepper on the left side of my lower lip, that was at first easily concealable with tinted lipgloss, grew larger and darker to the point where it showed through lipstick. Even when I got my makeup professionally done with M.A.C. makeup, the spot peeked through the heavily pigmented lip colour.
Over the 2013 holidays, after realizing that I had purchased two new lipsticks in one month, something so out-of-character (I’m a Chapstick or clear gloss kind of girl!), I decided it was time to just remove the unsightly spot for good.
Now finding the right person for mole removal, on the super sensitive lip area, turned out to be quite entertaining. It seems like everyone is a skincare expert these days! Get this: When my waxing lady saw the spot while she was waxing my upper lip, she told me that her cousin (an aesthetician) could burn it off with a special laser pen in the back room; One stay-at-home mother turned “skin consultant” tried selling me a cream with the controversial bleaching ingredient hydroquinone; A holistic nutritionist suggested putting lemons on the spot; An Avon lady recommended making homemade lip exfoliants with honey and sugar. If only it were that easy! All of these tips, by the way, are unsupported by science.
I ended up turning to Dr. Kellett because, well first of all, she’s a doctor, and secondly she did a brilliant job at removing a raised brown mole at the corner of my left eye last spring; you can watch the procedure here.
At my appointment Dr. Kellett told me that brown spots on the lower lip are actually quite common. This is because the lower lip tends to protrude from the face, thus it can get hit by the sun quickly. She then got into what the spot could be: “There are a number of a what we call melanocytic lesions that can occur on the lip. They can range from a mole, a lentigo (a sunspot), a freckle and anywhere in between it can also be a skin cancer.”
Hearing the words “melanocytic lesion” was scary since it sounds like melanoma, but it is simply skin-speak for a mole or beauty mark. Could it be cancer? At this point, Dr. Kellett told me that the only way to be sure is by removing it safely with a modified shave excision and sending it to a lab for diagnosis.
When I mentioned the suggestions I got from non-medical people, she remarked that using lasers to zap off spots on the lip is highly frowned upon in the medical community. Not just for the potential cosmetic consequences (serious bleeding, scarring, and possible infection) but for the fact that because spots on the lips can look like malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer that kills 900 people a year, burning the lesion off will destroy evidence of a potential cancer.
By seeing a derm, you kill two birds with one stone: you get the spot removed in the safest and most cosmetically-pleasing method and you get tested for skin cancer.
The procedure was easier and faster than I anticipated. Here’s how the treatment went down:
STEP 1 Dr. Kellett froze the spot with a needle that contained a numbing solution. In five seconds the area was completely frozen, in fact, Dr Kellett actually counted down to let me know when to expect to feel nothing.
STEP 2 While my lower lip was frozen, Dr. Kellett used a thin blade to skillfully slice the lesion off. It was quick, like under a minute quick. It felt surreal to not a thing while this was going on.
STEP 3 Lastly she used a heated electric needle to finish it off. “This method is called electrodessication, and it not only controls bleeding but the heat also shrinks the size of the wound down so the spot that you may end up with will look smaller than the original,” explained Dr. Kellett.
I was told to keep the area moisturized with Vaseline, and that the wound would heal from the bottom up. The melanocytic lesion was then shipped to a medical lab to determine what it is exactly and whether or not it was cancerous.
The Healing and The Lab Results
On the evening following the procedure, my lips had a little hole where the spot was. It was also the night when Dr. Rad told me to pack my bags for a surprise getaway. At the airport the next day (the Friday Dr. Rad proposed), the little hole had healed over and it simply looked like I had a cold sore on my lip. Though it looked painful, it didn’t hurt at all. By Monday, I went back to work (with a fancy ring to flash around) and nobody even noticed my lip. One week after the procedure, it was undetectable to other people including Dr. Rad, who had no qualms about kissing my lips like nothing had happened to them.
Two weeks after the procedure, I got a voice message from from Dr. Kellett with the pathology results: Non-cancerous Melanotic Macule. Yay! Of course I Googled “Melanotic Macule” and found many photos of what I had. Apparently you can even get a melanotic macule on the gums.
While Dr. Kellett told me that it would take a full month for the excised spot to heal completely, I’m smiling at the 3-week mark because there is absolutely no trace of pigmentation or scarring. I’m back to wearing Chapstick (with SPF 15 this time!) and clear lip gloss again.
Dr. Kellett reclaimed my lips!
Next month, I’ll tell you how this needle-wielding magician below fixed my wonky eye and made me look less sleep-deprived. Hint for skincare nerds: It involved monopolar radio frequency plus a neauromodulator.