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Birthmark / Mole Removal

Virginia needs some advice on other mama's who've opted to have skin imperfections taken care of on their child.  She writes:

I know this is a long shot but I figured I’d see if anyone out there has been through anything similar.  My 21 month old son has a mole on the side of his face between his cheek and eye.  It looks like a birthmark (and that’s what every doctor told me it was) but my gut told me it was something more.  Thus, I took him to a pediatric dermatologist and I was right.  It’s a large flat mole and very noticeable (over 1 cm in diameter).  I’m his mama so I don’t care but there is no doubt that we will have it removed, probably around his third birthday.  The risk of skin cancer with this type of mole is 1 in 3 plus I don’t want him to have to deal with any teasing/bullying because of it.  Have any of the other urbanMamas ever dealt with a similar issue?  I’m most concerned with the anesthesia involved with the surgery, plus it’s plastic surgery.  I could really use some support and would love any info from someone who’s been through something similar.

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I have not had experience with moles, but my daughter was born with a folded ear and we wanted to consult with a plastic surgeon. Both my obgyn and my pediatrician recommended Dr. Kathleen Waldorf as the best in the area. At our meeting with her, I found her initially to be intimidating because she was quiet and serious, but as she examined my then 3-mo-old daughter and explained our options she was kind and spoke with quiet confidence. After consulting with her, we have decided to wait until my daughter is 3 before we decide whether to have the surgery.

Best wishes for you and your son!

I have not experienced this first-hand with my twins, but I can recommend a fantastic dermatologist who has taken care of some of my own skin cancer issues. Her name is Phoebe Rich and she is in NW Portland. I have numerous friends who see her, one who had melanoma, and she really does come highly recommended. Her number is 503-226-3376 and web site is www.PhoebeRichMD.com ~ Best of luck.

I don't have any recommendations (wish I did!) but I just wanted to commend you on going with your gut instinct! I feel that Mamas (and Dads!) always know their kids best, even if a doctor treats you like you're insane. A friend just had to take her baby to the hospital due a doctor being too "relaxed" about something that my friend believed to be serious. She was right. Good going! And best wishes to you and your little guy!

Hi Virginia,

My daughter was born with a small scar on her face that we knew we would have surgery on someday. When she was born the doctors wanted to do it right away so she wouldn't be afraid but we wanted to wait until she was older and could understand what was happening. I was really concerned about the general anesthesia, and I did find research saying that the chance of long term effects goes down with age, it is a much bigger risk for babies. I dreaded it for years but we finally decided to have it done last summer when she was 6.

I have to say dreading it for years was much worse than the actual day. We too went with Kathleen Waldorf, she is the best of the best in Portland. If you go with her you have a choice of Hospitals and Legacy Emmanuel Children's hospital was phenomenal. They made it feel like an adventure for my daughter. We went in the day before so she could tour it and talk to everyone. On the day of her surgery he anesthesiologist was even singing to her. When we drive by there she says "hey look there's my place" She remembers it as a good day when she got to be brave.

I think it important how you approach it with kids too. We never said the work "fix" to her. We always told her that the doctors needed to change it to make it grow the right way. We never let on how nervous we were leading up to it and I think that really helped her.

Good luck!

My son had general anesthesia at 3 months and again at about 2 years old. It was traumatizing for all of us, but he came through with flying colors. Our surgeon is out of the area now, but I second the great staff at Legacy Emmanuel. Our experience there was far and beyond the experience we had at OHSU.

Forgot to say - good luck and all the best to you!

I am very interested in what you find out. My daughter has a mole on her neck that she picks. I know that it is a hereditary mole and will get big and I'd like to have it removed someday. She is 4 and I feel the longer we are able to wait with any kind of surgery, the better. Although there is a risk for cancer, I bet it's not for years down the line. Why the trauma of a such an experience so early if not a medical necessity? Best to you all.

i'm not sure if this will help, but i was born with two large birthmarks (one on my chest, one on my abdomen) that turned out to be malignant moles. they were removed when i was twelve, and the only thing i remember about it was that i couldn't go swimming afterwards until it healed! (my parents had it done after school got out for the summer) i had local anesthesia, not general.

good luck to you- and know that children heal fast (both in mind and body!)

For what it's worth, my sister and I both have 1+cm moles (mine on my arm, hers on her temple). We are both in our 30s and still have them.... getting them checked periodically by dermatologists, of course. Maybe it's a generational thing, but our doctor growing up advised against removal. Obviously all medical situations are different. My derm here is Dr. Sisk over at Kaiser - he's amazing and is one of the top dermatologists in the city. Good luck with whatever you decide.

My son was born with a third nipple and we opted to have it removed sooner (at 8 months), rather than later. We did this for a number of reasons, including not wanting him to be teased and not wanting him to be old enough to be scared of the surgery. He was under general anesthesia and everything went great. I think we were much more traumatized by the whole thing than he was. He was smiling and flirting with nurses in the recovery room. I think it's important to find someone who specializes in pediatric surgery. Our surgeon was awesome, and it was reassuring to know that he dealt with "tiny patients" every day. Good luck to you and your little boy!

Just to comment on your dilema with your son...I completely understand and I think tat you are 100% right to follow your mama instinct! I grew up with a "beauty mark" on my right cheek and was bullied and picked on constantly because of it! It wasn't even that big, but I really do think my life would have been easier without it! As soon as I was able to make my own decisions medically, I had it removed and shortly after I became much more confident because I did. I think you would be doing your son a huge favor by having it removed. Good luck.

Hi Virginia, I do not know if you are checking this forum. We are in the same situation. Please let us know what you did, how and where. It would be great to know if someone had this done with leading Dermatalogist/ Plastic Surgeon in Chicago.

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