I Tried Mole Mapping. Here’s What Happened

shutterstock (2)When someone says “mole mapping,” you’re most likely picturing someone taking a Sharpie and playing connect-the-dots with your moles. Maybe even naming each line things like, “Shoulder Blade Road” or “Gluteus Maximus Street.” But the actual procedure of mole mapping doesn’t even come close to that. It’s a technique where a skin specialist takes 20 to 30 digital photographs of your body from head to toe to document every single mole. Think of it like a modeling portfolio for your moles, except it won’t pay your bills and it may actually save your life by detecting skin cancer. That’s because the photographs are used as a baseline for your current mole pattern to identify potentially dangerous skin changes in the future.

Since two of my many moles have been biopsied before, my dermatologist thought I was the perfect candidate for the procedure. Mole mapping is recommended for anyone who has a family history of melanoma, new or changing moles, fair skin, more than 50 moles, and other factors. I met all of the above, which means that I’m a giant red bull’s-eye for melanoma. I would like to thank my Swedish and German ancestors for blessing me with their porcelain white skin that burns within minutes under the sun’s rays. Not to mention that I’m covered in moles or as my grandma calls them “fly poopies.” Basically, I’m covered in fly feces.

My dermatologist informed me that I’d have to strip down to my underwear for the occasion and I died a little inside since I’m quite camera shy. See, I’m not your stereotypical millennial with an iPhone full of selfies. In fact, I loathe having my picture taken, so I knew standing practically naked in front of a stranger with a camera would jostle my nerves a bit. But I decided I could shed my body image issues for the sake of my future health. It’s not like this was going to be plastered all over the cover of Reader’s Digest.

A roll of gray photo studio paper…

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