Children can be afflicted by numerous congenital and developmental issues, some of which cause medical concern and others a source of personal embarrassment. Plastic surgeons routinuely see many of these patients for potential surgical removal. By far, one of the most common issues is the garden variety mole. Some moles are present at birth (congenital nevus) while the vast majority appear years after birth. There is always a potential concern about whether they may be or are predisposed to skin cancer. But most of the time they are issues of wanting to be ‘normal’ and not having the stigma of a black spot on their face or other body part.
In the new children’s book ‘Cole Has A Mole’ written by Indianapolis plastic surgeon Dr. Barry Eppley and his daughter Hannah, the story of a young boy and his moles is told. Daring to be different and to have a pet that is unique, Cole buys a lonely but different looking animal (mole) at the local pet shop. Pleased and excited by his purchase, he takes it to school for a show and tell presentation. While his pet is a hit, it is pointed out by his classmates that he also has another pet mole…the one on his face. While he has also known that he had a spot on his face he never thought it was different or unusual, he had come to see as normal and just a part of who he was…until now. He soon finds that the mole on his face, unlike his pet mole, is a source of teasing and embarrassment.
So what is Cole to do? His parents take him to a local plastic surgeon to find out what can be done. During the visit he learns that it is normal to have moles like his but that it can be removed if he wants. Cole and his parents weigh the options and, in the end, he decides his mole will stay. He comes to accept that, like his pet mole, his facial mole makes him unique. He learns that is ok to be different. Perhaps he learns that there is a fine line between being different and unique.
The take home message for children is dare to be different…be like Cole and his moles!
Elective plastic surgery in children and teenagers has always been a sensitive subject. Whether it is something that is a benign congenital lesion or having one’e ears or nose changed touches on the issue of a child’s self-image and their psychosocial development. Should plastic surgery be done and is it healthy? Like Cole and his mole, such decisions are personal ones and the answer is as unique as the individual.