Skin Cancer: Will I Look Like a Monster?

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Scars After Skin Cancer

Turns out, Amy and I aren't the only Men's Health staffers to be faced with Mohs surgery. Brian Boyé, our 44-year-old fashion director, underwent the surgery a week before I did. And senior editor Ben Court, 38, had the procedure 7 years ago (as did his wife). All of which serves as a reminder: If you want protection from skin cancer, don't count on youth—reach for a bottle of sunscreen.

A week after my surgery, a nurse removed the 40 stitches from my nose. Then Dr. Miller sat down next to me and started swabbing the area with a cotton swab soaked in alcohol.

"I want to clean it before you have a look," he said. "It'll give you more confidence about how it's going to look once it's fully healed."

"What about the spot above my lip?" I asked, referring to a patch of persistently dry skin that Dr. Miller had decided to biopsy the day of my surgery.

He checked the pathology results. "It's squamous," he said, as he handed me a mirror. "We can handle it the same way." This was frustrating: Eight years ago, another dermatologist had told me this spot was "nothing."

I inhaled deeply as I lifted the mirror and looked at my reflection. I was pleasantly surprised: I wasn't a monster. Confidence level: rising. (Watch the video of my surgery. It contains graphic footage from my operation, but you also see how fast and impressive my recovery has been.)

Yesterday, Eric Adams, another editor here, pointed out a skin tag barely poking out from underneath his sideburn. He's 41. "What do you think? Probably nothing, right?"

I could see a tiny scab on it. It had been bleeding.

"I think it's basal cell. You should have that biopsied," I said, channeling Dr. Miller. Of course, I don't really know if it's skin cancer. Then again, Eric doesn't know that it isn't.

***

More from Men's Health:

The Men's Health Skin Cancer Center

When Cancer Attacks Your Face

8 Sun Protection Mistakes

SLIDESHOW: What Skin Cancer Looks Like

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