Last modified on July 8th, 2009

A few weeks ago I blogged about an upcoming appointment to have a few moles removed from my face (the main reason being that I keep cutting them while shaving). Well, today was the day, and they’re officially gone.

Strangely enough, I’ve developed a bit of a fainting reaction over the years to needles. That’s weird because needles don’t scare me in the least, and for the most part, I have a pretty high pain tolerance. But there’s something about a needle being stuck in me that elicits some kind of physiological reaction, almost like my body knows something else is coming, and tries to shut down. The first time it happened I was getting a needle in the doctor’s office here in Chilliwack (about ten years ago). As soon as it went in my heart rate plummeted and I got all woozy and shaky. My doctor had to put me in a chair and let me rest for about five minutes before I could leave. A few years ago I also had a few vaccinations before going to Costa Rica, and sure enough, nearly passed out during the third one.

Thankfully nothing like that happened today, but I felt the world start to slip away from me at one point there and somehow managed to keep it together.

As I mentioned before, I might have been able to convince my GP to take the moles out himself. But given how I know a really good plastic surgeon (the guy who fixed my eye socket two years ago), I contacted him via email to see if it would be something he could do. Because we knew each other, he was nice enough to waive the consultation fee, and simply charged me for the surgical suite and his usual fee. In my case, the total (which included office visits, the surgery to remove three moles, the final pathology and any follow ups) was about $350, which I actually think is fairly cheap, given what’s involved and the expertise required to do a good job.

I spent about 45 minutes waiting in the waiting room prior to surgery. I guess the patient in ahead me ended up being a bit more involved. Thankfully I had my trusty iPhone with me, so I simply browed through Google reader for a while. Once in the surgical suite, I hopped up on the table and waited for the surgeon. Local anesthetic was injected into all three sites, which actually hurt like a bitch (it really burns). After about five minutes, the surgeon started poking the first one with a needle to see if I could feel anything. Given that I couldn’t, he proceeded.

To remove all three and suture the skin closed in each location took about 30 minutes, including the initial anesthetic. For some reason I thought it would take longer, but I guess something like this (when you’re used to doing big operations), is pretty trivial.

I currently have eight small stitches in my face — four in my cheek (where the biggest mole was), three in my right upper-lip, and one at the center of my upper lip. There’s a bit of blood caked onto each location, but it looks like the surgeon did a really amazing job. In fact, I can’t even see the incision lines in two of the locations, just the sutures outlining where the incisions obviously are. Another nice benefit to having a plastic surgeon do the procedure is that they are good at putting incisions in what are called “relaxed skin tension lines”, or basically the natural relaxation lines (i.e. laugh lines) of your face. Because they are areas of minimal skin tension, healing is usually optimal. So each of my incisions is actually angled a different way, lining up pretty much perfectly with the curves on my face.

On Monday I’ll get the stitches out, and then I’ll probably post a photo or two. Right now there’s enough caked on blood on my face to look a bit gross. In fact, I had to go out and get a bit of topical antibiotic, and I got a few looks in the pharmacy, but whatever. Thankfully I haven’t felt an pain yet, but things are a bit itchy on my face. I’ll post again in a few days.

13 responses to “Surgery”

  1. Dale says:

    Glad it went smoothly- hope you don’t end up like Michael Jackson and make a regular habit of this. But if you end up selling millions of records, it might be a fair trade.

  2. Duane Storey says:

    Yah, think I’m done with surgeries for a while.

  3. Jeff says:

    Hope you’re feeling ok post-op.

    I am interested in your evolving physiologic response to needles. If you get a chance, take a look at vaso-vagal syncope and let me know if it sounds familiar. My PhD research was in neuroimmunology and the brain’s adaptation to peripheral stimuli is RAD.

    Glad your day went well and wish you a speedy recovery.

  4. Duane Storey says:

    Yah, that’s kind of related I guess. One thing that also happens is if I get stressed or get in a heated argument with someone I usually feel super tired immediately after, like I need to sleep.

  5. Jeff says:

    So, we call that the emotional-refractory period and for most people it’s nothing, but for those with heightened and/or sensitive vasovagal responses, an emotionally-fueled argument can feel like running a marathon.

    The good news is that going forward, you know something about how your brain/body interact…and knowing is half-the-battle.


  6. Kristy says:

    Glad to hear your surgery went well!

  7. Tyler says:

    Glad the surgery went smooth! Now for your speedy recovery! I remember when I got my stitches taken out from my Achilles, I had my brother use my phone to take photos of it. Not sure where I posted those photos… lol Wasn’t a pretty sight, but it was neat to see since I wore a cast for 2 months over it.

  8. VancityAllie says:

    I’m really, really glad to hear it went well. I was worried about you!

    30 minutes seems like a LIFETIME when you’re being sewn up! At least that’s how I feel!

    Good on you as well for holding it together and overcoming your fear! That’s definitely not easy.

    BTW, post the bloody pics! They’re the best ones! 😉

    Hope you are well. Talk to you soon.

  9. Duane Storey says:

    Not when you’re single they aren’t!

  10. I’m glad that went well. I’m also glad I don’t have that type of reaction to needles. Since I’m diabetic (three+ needles per day since I was 21) and also have to take a blood-thinner injection once a day, and a total of as many as ten needles in one day when I visit the Cancer Agency monthly, not even mentioning lancing my fingertips to test my blood glucose several times every day, I’d be unconscious half the time!

  11. Duane Storey says:

    Hey Derek, you ever thought about getting an insulin pump?

  12. jillian says:

    hey duane

    what was the name of the doctor in vancouver who did the mole removal for you? thanks

  13. Duane Storey says:

    Dr. Cameron Bowman at the Fairview Plastic Surgery Center.

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