Will my scars heal in a month?
May 10, 2006 12:59 PM   Subscribe

I want to get some moles removed. Will the scars heal by this day in June? I want to look pretty for a wedding.

Details: A few "chocolate-chip" ones on my back, a couple of flesh-toned ones on my neck, maybe a couple of small flesh-toned ones on my face. I sound hideous, but I'm not (just a bit moley)...

I have a strapless dress to wear, and it's going to be very, very hot, so my long hair will be up, showing my back and neck.
posted by mdiskin to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My friend recently had this surgery under similar circumstances. Based on her experience, no, they will not heal before the wedding.
posted by cribcage at 1:08 PM on May 10, 2006

The scars will "heal" in a couple of weeks, but they'll be just that... scars. Some may heal better than others, but there's always going to be a mark there. I had one removed on my arm, and it was well done, as discreetly as the dermatologist could, and now it's a flat pinkish-purple mark. It was done at the end of March and was a painless scar within two weeks.
posted by degnarra at 1:09 PM on May 10, 2006

This page suggests that a month's time is all it takes for the scab to fall off and the redness to subside.

If it were me (I am a man, though), I would play it safe and not do it only a month before your wedding day. Your moles are probably more attractive than a (possibly) swollen, red, infected bump, wouldn't you say?
posted by pmbuko at 1:09 PM on May 10, 2006

what stage are you in thinking about getting this done? I ask because
1) there's likely a wait to get on the dermatologist's schedule
2) they will likely want to do a first visit which involves taking some samply bits to do testing on before actually removing it (e.g., is it malignant?)
3) depending on the size and location, it may require stitches. We are not, it seems, into the land of transparent or dissolving stitches for everything - I had 3 black stitches for about 3 weeks.

Also note that in some locations there will be resistance to removing them because of the likeliness of excessive scarring or the formation of cysts. I was specifically told this about one on my shoulder I wanted removed.

That said, if you had 2 months instead of 1, I'd see it as doable. I can't think of anyone I know who has bad scarring from removing moles, even on the face.
posted by whatzit at 1:10 PM on May 10, 2006

where by "on my shoulder" I mean the back-shoulder area, over the shoulder blade - it sounds like this may be similar to the ocation you're talkiing about.
posted by whatzit at 1:11 PM on May 10, 2006

Do you have an appointment? How soon would you be able to get one? Maybe if you had them removed today, but you might not be able to get an appointment for another week or so, at least, which cuts into healing time.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:15 PM on May 10, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: No malignancy AFAIK, and it's not my wedding, I'm just an honored guest. Sorry for that mistake. But it's a 4-day thing, I'll be attending lots of parties, and it's hot as hell in Georgia in June. I want to show skin (tastefully) but not scars if I can help it.

Or is there something I can use to cover scars?
posted by mdiskin at 1:15 PM on May 10, 2006

A month (assuming you can get it done in the next couple of days, which -- if you don't already have an appointment -- doesn't seem likely to me) might very well be enough time to heal from one but not the other, depending on location, size, etc. The person to talk to is a dermatologist, who can give you a more realistic assessment. If you rule out surgery, you might want to consider something like Dermablend to conceal the darker ones on your back.
posted by scody at 1:16 PM on May 10, 2006

(Dermablend can cover scars, too.)
posted by scody at 1:17 PM on May 10, 2006

I went to my dermatologist about a scar from a deep scratch on my forehead. I didn't want to live with it forever. When I told her the scratch had happened about two months ago, she said "Surgical scars, which are simialr to your scratch, are actually redder at around 6 to 8 weeks than at any other time. " FWIW, I waited and within another month it was almost invisible, all on its own. It sounds to me like if you get them removed now, the wedding wil land right about at their most visible time.
posted by juggler at 1:18 PM on May 10, 2006

mdiskin, it's not that they necessarily expect it to be malignant. But at least where I had it done, the sampling is a routine part of having any mole removed.

scody's right that the only person giving a good answer is the dermatologist, but if you're not already on their books, it's probably not going to happen for June 10...
posted by whatzit at 1:20 PM on May 10, 2006

Best answer: Yeah, it's immaterial. No way will you be able to get an appointment and removal any where near soon enough. Generally, an initial visit is necessary so the doc can better understand what needs to be done - seb k's vs. true moles vs. ak's vs. skin tags, etc - all are removed differently, with different amounts of time per lesion, etc.

However, you might go in and find that the most noxious 'moles' are just skin tags that can be snipped off in the office in two seconds with no real healing necessary, or seb k's that can be frozen in a few seconds and which will slough off and heal in a week or two.

And most Family docs or internists can do this, or their mid-level PA, and you can get in to them in a few days as opposed to weeks.
posted by docpops at 1:29 PM on May 10, 2006

Mdiskin, you should make an appointment today to see the dermatologist. When they can fit you into their schedule will determine your schedule. Start the process now, but you'll probably end up getting them removed after the wedding.
posted by voidcontext at 1:31 PM on May 10, 2006

Response by poster: Many thanks -- based on all the comments about scarring, I'll wait til afterwards. Guess I'll just be there in all my moley glory....
posted by mdiskin at 1:32 PM on May 10, 2006

but if family PCPs remove a mole, they might not remove a suspicious one with full margins or depth, which hinders any pathology needed. I'd really recommend a non-cosmetic dermatologist.
posted by kcm at 1:34 PM on May 10, 2006

Best answer: I had several removed not too long ago. It depends how they are removed, they can be removed with an instrument that is similar to taking a core sample of skin, sometimes called a "punch"which depending on the size usually requires 1 or 2 stitches that are in for 10 days, once removed there can be some inflammation and redness for another week or two. The other method is to remove them with an incision; this way requires much more healing time because they actually make an incision to remove the mole. Again, it really depends on the size. I had one on my left leg that wasn't very big, but required 9 stitches, and took at least a few weeks to heal.

I guess my recommendation would be to wait.

Good luck !!
posted by Cohiba4009 at 1:35 PM on May 10, 2006

kcm - no one removes a true mole (melanocytic lesion) with appropriate margins unless there is a significant suspicion that it is malignant, which is rare, thankfully. An 'excisional biopsy' is more common - that is, remove the visible mole, send it for path, and if it's benign, the patient has a nice small scar and you're done. If it's malignant, they need a wide, deep excision, which if it were done initially on every mole, would be a disaster for lots of [hopefully] obvious reasons. If you've ever seen the damage left behind after a melanoma wide excision, you'd understand.
posted by docpops at 1:38 PM on May 10, 2006

I have the damage from a 5mm NLE (path cautioned for possible .4mm Clark II) - done by a cosmetic derm. Two 4" scars. :) Benign looking or not, there's always a chance, and if you do a shave you've irrevocably removed the maximal depth - the only truly relevant prognosticator for most I/II mm patients.

The other reason for people that do this kind of thing daily is that it's very dependent on their skill. The scars on my back would probably be a lot smaller had a plastics guy done it rather than the derm going ahead and doing it herself in the office before the path came back.
posted by kcm at 1:54 PM on May 10, 2006

I think moles are kind of cute, and certainly better than scars. Consider at least waiting - no one will notice, I'm sure.
posted by agregoli at 2:14 PM on May 10, 2006

kcm - all good point. Thanks.
posted by docpops at 2:53 PM on May 10, 2006

I have some very large scars (one on my neck and one on my back) from mole removals. Rather than traditional strip scars, they more look like dents - where a chunk of my skin was taken out. That of course is due to the size and depth of the mole removed (plus, too, they were precancerous). Luckily they're in places not normally seen by the public! I always have to be careful though when buying a dress or doing my hair in an updo. That said, there's no way I would do this a month before a wedding.

I would never, ever, ever have had those moles removed if they weren't precancerous. The scars I am left with are a thousand times more noticable than the moles ever were.

Also, my father has had a number of moles removed on his face. The majority of them healed perfectly in about a month, but some of them did leave scars. He honestly doesn't care much for appearances so he didn't use the Mederma stuff his doctor recommended, but that is available for decreasing the appearance of scars.
posted by MeetMegan at 3:02 PM on May 10, 2006

It time for me to bang on my keep-it-out-of-the-sun drum?

Scars turn purple if they get sun in the first year. They will stay purple for years.

They don't if you don't, so keep them covered with clothes or zinc oxide for the first year.

disclaimer: I am white and can make no claims regarding otherly pigmented skin.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:02 PM on May 10, 2006

If you can't get the moles removed/healed in time, why not buy a beautiful stole to wear. For the flesh-coloured moles, something like Dermablend should cover them - book a consultation with a make-up artist specifically to learn how to disguise them.

When it comes to them being removed, the thing I've found works best for healing scars is Vitamin E oil, not oil you'd buy in a drugstore for skin, but the vitamin E capsules you can buy to take as a supplement. They're usually gel capsules filled with a mixture of sunflower oil and vitamin E. Pop a capsule with a pin, squeeze the oil out and rub it on the scar. The vitamin E is far more concentrated in this form than in the cosmetic oil and it really helps scars to heal, especially keloid scarring.
posted by essexjan at 3:58 PM on May 10, 2006

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