Removal of moles and other blemishes from my scalp when I shave my head?
April 22, 2011 6:17 PM   Subscribe

I am losing my hair, but I'm comfortable with the fact that soon I'll either be a guy with thinning hair, or a guy with a shaved head. What I'm worried about is that I may just have unsightly moles on my head.

I'm wondering what the options would be for having them removed, if that is even possible, and what kind of scars that would leave. Compounding this is a mild case of psoriasis that I hope will be easier to treat when I shave my head eventually.

1) Would it be deemed frivolous?
2) Would it be covered under provincial health care?
3) Will it leave behind marks as bad as the moles themselves?
4) Is there anything else I'm not thinking of?

If it makes any difference as to medical options, I live in Quebec.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
I don't think it's frivolous if it affects your self esteem. Some moles add character, some don't. I've had some removed and never regretted it. How or if you get a scar is dependent on the size of what's removed, your genetics, and your doctor's skill. Personally, I would choose a small scar over what I had removed any day!
posted by cecic at 6:20 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you just want them removed for appearance sake, that's not normally covered by provincial healthcare. But it's not expensive. I've had it done for about $50. That was a few years ago, say maybe $100 now. There are different ways of removing moles. Some leave more marks than others. Most marks will fade with time. However, they doctor can't guarantee that the mole won't just come back.

I wouldn't think a mole on your head would be unsightly. I would just go with it. I suppose it depends on the mole, though.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:41 PM on April 22, 2011

If you have them removed you'll trade the moles for scars. The scars are tiny, and get a lot better after the first couple of years.

(If you care at all, I'd much prefer barely noticeable scars over moles on my partner's head. The opinions of others may differ.)
posted by halogen at 6:51 PM on April 22, 2011

I've had (I think) five moles removed in my life. Three were because they were in the way of clothes, whatever; two were cosmetic. Of those five, all but one has grown back, though smaller, lighter in color, and not as sensitive to touch. The scar from the one that's stayed away is small and only noticeable if you're really looking for it.

So I say go for it. The worst that can happen is that they'll just come back. Best case, you'll have a lovely, mole-free head.

I don't know how things work in Canada, but in the US, in most cases, I think concocting a story like "I regularly shave my head and these moles get in the way and are prone to getting nicked by the razor" is enough for insurance to cover it.
posted by phunniemee at 6:53 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

bald heads are imminently grabbable, but people without moles (raised ones) sometimes hesitate to touch in that area because they're afraid they might hurt something. i would remove the moles for that alone. who doesn't want their head manhandled like a casaba by Mr. or Ms. Hottatrott?

(that said i am vain and frivolous and i do not care.)
posted by patricking at 7:08 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

The size of any scars depends on how big the moles are. I had one about the size of a dime removed about five years ago and I've still got quite the impressive line-scar. You can only see it if I buzz my hair, though, but it's definitely there. The scar also depends on your skin -- do you get keloids, a basic thin white-scar-tissue scar, or something else?

Getting scalp moles removed is also pretty painful and messy, since there are so many blood vessels in the area. Some people say that moles can be frozen off in the manner that warts are, but that's not guaranteed. The only absolute method is to numb up the scalp and surgically remove the mole -- sometimes it's shaving it off and other times it's by cutting a big hole and pulling it out [how mine was done].

I don't think it's necessarily frivolous, but it may be hard to get it done if it's just based on appearances. If they've changed appearance [color, size, shape, etc] might as well get them biopsied if you're going to remove them.

The only other thing I can think of is that the scars will be tender for quite some time after. They sunburn easily [if you're shaving your head sunscreen is a must anyway!], they itch while healing, and ache sometimes. But it can definitely be worth it -- mine certainly was, because I was constantly catching it with my brush/comb and making it bleed, and it was very worrisome in terms of cancer possibilities.
posted by gloraelin at 7:17 PM on April 22, 2011

I think you should see what a dermatologist has to say. It can't hurt to get an expert's opinion, and I guarantee they'll be more knowledgable than anyone on Metafilter
posted by catwash at 7:20 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've had friends who have had moles removed or biopsies, and the scars that remained really bothered them -- big, keloidy things -- but to me, it looked like they were taken out in the doc's office quickly, as if they were just hacked/scooped out -- as if the emphasis was just on getting it out, as opposed to what would be left behind. However, these were in areas of much softer tissue (one on the shoulder, and one on a leg). I imagine the skin on the head is much thinner, so the moles don't run as deep. However, if you do go that route, take agency and really impress on whomever is doing the procedure your concerns about scarring, etc. Hopefully, they will then pick a sharp-bladed scalpel over a melon baller!

I am nothing but impressed with anyone that has the cojones to just shave it off -- that must be so liberating -- I am in the exact opposite boat: I have a lot of big scars on my head from a fairly accident-prone childhood! Wanna trade?
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 7:41 PM on April 22, 2011

Everyone heals differently, and scarring is possible. I had two moles removed from the inside of my upper arm. My doctor told me there would be little to no scarring. Nearly three years later, the scars are noticeable enough that people occasionally inquire about them with concern, as they look exactly like someone put out a cigarette on my skin. I'd rather have the scars than the moles, which were really sensitive, but you should be aware that you may be trading one skin irregularity for another.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 9:47 PM on April 22, 2011

Moles or no moles, you're much better doing a Jason Statham rather than a Bobby Charlton and sooner rather than later. Don't be the guy in the indoor baseball cap or hang on till you're sad as an old pop star in a big hat. Shave it off, you'll look tougher anyway.
posted by joannemullen at 3:03 AM on April 23, 2011

Shave it now, just to see what it's like. [I was in the same boat as you. Now I'm in the boat ahead of you, and wearing a hat whenever it's sunny outside.]

It'll grow back in six months, and you can find out now, instead of just waiting on time and genetics.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:13 AM on April 23, 2011

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