I’ve never understood how otherwise sensible people let themselves get carried away with cosmetic procedures. Can’t they see there’s a point where they start to look worse instead of better?
I suppose they begin by wanting a minor fix and then, pleased with the results, opt for another . . . and another . . . and another, until they run out of money or end up on one of those plastic surgery victim websites.
It’s the addictive nature of it that’s kept me away from plastic surgeons and dermatologists alike.
You see, this odd spot appeared on my face sometime last year. It’s flat and brown and about 1/4” in diameter. It bugged me, but I ignored it for the most part until one day when I was visiting my father-in-law in the hospital.
We had just gotten bad news about his diagnosis and we were there to discuss what few medical options remained. As we talked to him, it quickly became clear that he was too sick already to participate in the discussion. He answered a few of our questions, but then started talking about something that had happened years earlier, or was completely off topic.
Then, about halfway through that trying conversation, my father-in-law stopped, turned and looked at me and asked, “What’s that thing on your face?”
In the days to come, he was only able to put together a few more words. Sadly, he passed away just a few weeks later.
His question to me was one of his last lucid statements and I couldn’t stop thinking it. It amazed me that he was concerned about my health as he lay there in obvious pain. I also wondered if his words were a message somehow. Maybe my unsightly spot was actually something more dangerous?
Both my father and my sister had skin cancer, and I foolishly spent my teen years basking in the sun, even applying baby oil to deepen my tan. It finally hit me – what had I been thinking ignoring this spot when it was very likely a deadly cancer?
I decided to make an appointment with a dermatologist at once.
Six months later I placed the call. Three months later I arrived for my appointment. I gave the doctor a detailed history and expressed my concerns.
He gave me a brief exam then delivered the news, “It’s not cancer. It’s just a lentigines, or what is sometimes referred to as a ‘maturity spot.’”
WHAAAAT? You mean an age spot! Why, that’s almost worse . . . and no one calls them “maturity spots.’ I don’t know who this guy was trying to fool.
He said he could remove it for a mere few hundred dollars and just two laser treatments.
In the days to come I considered his offer. I had gotten the answer I had come for. The spot was harmless. Maybe I should just leave it alone or hide it, like I do the grey hair that’s infiltrated my blonde. Also, it seemed like a lot of money to get rid of one little spot.
And if I did remove it, what’s the difference between me and those types I’ve made fun of – the ones who start out fixing one tiny problem, then turn into lip plumping, wrinkle filling, sag lifting cosmetic procedure addicts?
I’ll tell you what the difference is – the difference it that this hideous spot was on my face, and it needed to go!
So back at the dermatologist’s office two weeks later (it’s amazing how quickly you get in when you’re paying for elective treatments), I sat ready for my magical spot-be-gone procedure. The nurse asks about my pain threshold.
I like to think it’s pretty high, considering I somehow delivered my first baby without the benefit of an epidural. But even though I think I’m pretty tough, I would never tell a medical professional that for fear they’d take it as a challenge.
So then the nurse tells me that there’s an anesthetic cream she could give me to help prevent the pain, but I would have had to have come in thirty minutes before my appointment to apply it.
“Well, I’ll just jump in my time machine and set it for 8:30 then,” I say.
She didn’t laugh. Instead she hands me no less than five releases to sign saying that I wouldn’t hold them responsible for scarring, disfigurement or blindness.
The physicians Assistant comes in and asks about my pain threshold. Shouldn’t this pain thing have been brought up earlier? She says she can give me a shot since I didn’t know about the cream. A shot? You mean, in my face? Well, okay.
The laser tech guy tells me that this particular laser is the type they also use to remove colorful tattoos.
“Really? Well, since I’m here. Can you remove the tiny red spot above my eyebrow then?”
“Nope. Different laser.”
They handed me protective glasses and turned the laser on. Then came the disgusting part – the horrifying stench of burning flesh and hair combined with a crackle crackle crackle sound and prickling popping sensation on my skin. Blek! Blek! Double blek blek!
45 second later, they’re done.
For the next week I tried to hide my face from my co-workers and friends. I’d turn to the side whenever I spoke. Likely they thought I had developed a strange facial tic, but really I was just trying to hide the now very dark black spot that had developed on my face. It looked like a giant water beetle decided to lie down on my cheek to take a nap.
Thankfully, about eight days after the procedure, the spot came off. The result: a new patch of skin that looked much lighter than it had before. Not the same as the surrounding skin, but not as dark as it was either.
So now, a month later, I’m supposed to go in for a second treatment, but I’m not so sure. The thought of that needle coming towards my face and plunging into my skin again might be too much to bear. That needle haunted me for days.
In fact, I have new respect for those cosmetic procedure addicts. How they tolerate the pain and the vision of needles plunging into their face is beyond me.
Then again, it seems silly not to finish the job. I suppose I should be able to put up with one more laser treatment if there’s a chance this spot could totally disappear. It would be nice to have one less mark of time.
I find that I’m thinking a lot about that red spot above my eyebrow too. I wonder how much they would charge to zap that?
I’m not sure I would want all the work that some people seem to have had done, but now that I’m almost eligible for Medicare, my turkey neck and my jowls seem to be trying to reach my waist before my boobs do. So I could see having a little nip here and tuck there; maybe a face lift, and if they pull tight enough it might tighten up the boobs, too. Whaddaya think?
does Medicare cover that – or do you have to prove it’s a health issue?
Medicare doesn’t cover it. The comment was more to do with my age and the effects of gravity!
Gotcha. Gravity sucks indeed!
Be careful. My mother went into the dermatologist with a brown spot and they told her the same thing. Two years later, it had become melanoma. She had major surgery and scaring, but has had no recurrence. If only they had removed it to begin with.
Why aren’t they just using nitrous oxide? That does the trick too!
Ahh – good to know. I’ll keep an eye on it. They could have used nitrous oxide (cheaper) but they said more likely to leave a scar. Vanity strikes!
I’ve never had a problem with scarring, but I don’t have movie star/baby’s butt skin either so who knows??? Good luck!
I really enjoyed this post and haven’t we all soooo been there?
This post and all the comments so far make me so sad! Why was it so awful to have that age spot on your face? A dying and delirious man calls it a “thing” and you end up having needles plunged into your face. I totally understand the societal and media pressures and how we internalise them, but it’s so sad that you couldn’t simply live with this sign of your continuing life. As my grandmother often says, growing old is horrible, but the alternative is worse! Speaking as a 38 year old disabled woman, who wasn’t supposed to live for more than a few days, I sincerely hope I will be able to allow myself to age without fear.
I feel your pain with the needles. I was recently in hospital getting several iv treatments and a biopsy and man, those needles hurt. You could look into BB cream (the Korean kind, not the “beauty balm” or whatever L’Oreal/etc. are calling it). It was designed by the Germans for WWII victims who were physically scarred etc. and then picked up by the Koreans as a beauty product. Who knew? Anyway, it lightens skin and helps with age spots, so maybe give that a go? But then again, if you’ve already shelled out the big bucks for part I, you might as well finish the job. Good luck to you!
Hi Kristen! Hey thanks for the visit. You know, I like this post. People “freak” at the process of aging, especially when it takes a toll on their looks. Sure, the old saying is “beauty is only skin deep.” But for every 10 people who really believe that, there are 100, or 1,000, 10,000 or more who don’t…
“A gray hair, my life is OVER!” Hey, get over it. Things, shift, sag, and shrink as we get along in years. Live with it, folks.
Aw, I love ya all anyway!
I have a couple of tiny black spots on my face… the doc said it would only go by laser and would increase with age… On last check it was already on my shoulders and stomach too… That would be a lot of laser…
I think I would rather live with it.. getting eyebrows done is painful enough…