Mole removal the price of vanity

Beck Eleven
Beck Eleven

I had my first piece of plastic surgery last week.

Perhaps I should have considered a different procedure - liposuction, rhinoplasty or breast augmentation - but no, I had a tiny mole removed solely for vanity reasons.

I'm not anti-mole by any stretch of the imagination. Obviously, they can be dangerous and since a friend had a grade two melanoma removed recently, it provided a timely reminder to keep an eye on the wee blighters.

As a standard cluster of pigmented cells, I'm not averse to moles at all (except those ones on old ladies' faces that grow their own hairdo).

I lost a mole once.

I had a couple of sticky-outy ones on the crease on the inside of my right elbow. I was 20-something and in Blenheim for the weekend. On the Sunday morning I awoke to find one of the pair was missing.

I'd had a couple of flaming sambuccas the previous night and if I ever have cause to recall the tale, I speak of it fondly as "the night I lost a mole to flaming sambucca".

Anyway, the mole I had removed was one of of those things you'd never really notice until it was pointed out. But once you clapped eyes on it, it was all you could see.

Moley was 4mm in diameter, and barely even brown. It was a tiny bump. If you looked very closely, you could see a tiny white scar beneath it. The scar was made by my "friend" Emma when we were 15.

I was staying at Emma's house for the weekend. We'd gone to Malvern Park to play French cricket and I was pretty sure the next time I bowled she was going to be out. She had the tennis racket and I had the ball. I threw the ball, Emma heaved the racket and caught me right between the eyes.

The whole incident was vaguely forgettable, except Emma's reaction to her bleeding, woozy friend was not to help or inquire after my wellbeing. It was to follow me back to her house crying with laughter. And, between fits of hysterical laughter, to try to explain this was her natural reaction to stress.

Twenty-five years later she still laughs when she thinks of me, pale and bleeding, on the way down Gosset St.

But back to the offending mole. Another friend tried to talk me out of this unnecessary surgery by saying: "It doesn't even look like a mole. It looks more like a wart."

The appointment was made forthwith. Besides the mole I lost to the flaming sambucca, I'd only had one other mole removed before. It was on my arm and it left an ugly scar that resembles a crazy scientist's eye.

Naturally I did not want a scar like that between my eyes, so I went to a cosmetic surgeon. She had it off within 15 minutes.

The bill arrived this week. The description of the procedure had a touch of goopy onomatopoeia about it. "Excision mole glabella," it read.

Anyway, it seems a case of just desserts that while vanity motivated me to have the mole removed, I left the surgery with a big bit of white tape between my eyes.

I felt so self-conscious about the tape that I went to Timaru to hide in Grandma's house. I would have taken it off, but the stitches made it look like a spider was trying to crawl out of my face.

They're gone now, but I have to wear a spot of skin-coloured tape over it for six weeks. At six weeks, I have to massage the scar with cream to break down the hard tissue.

Today I ask myself, what price vanity?

I can't help thinking Emma should have thwacked me harder that day.

Then I would be telling another story for the rest of my days. The day I lost one mole to a flaming sambucca and the other to a game of French cricket.

The Press