A photo of a post-surgery wound.

When the "Body Shop" Doctor Makes a Mess

Let's begin this analogy

Let’s say you had a suspicious spot on your car, and you took said car to a specialized body shop quite some distance from your home. The spot is small, but you know that if you ignore it, it could in even more damage to the body of your car. You drove the extra miles, more than an hour from your home, because you knew it was the best shop for your kind of car. It is an older model that has seen better days and is sometimes cranky, but it’s a good car, and you want to take good care of it to get many more years out of it.

Fixing the spot

So, they fix the spot, which is right in the middle of the hood of the car. But in fixing it, they've had to cut through an area that was larger than the spot itself. After the paint dries, you take the car back and show them that the treated area does not look right. It is clear that some work has been done on it, and it doesn’t blend with the rest of the car. “No problem!” the body shop doctor says. “I can fix that!”

Going the distance

Before your poor car knows what is happening, the car doc lowers a big sander down and hovers it over the treated area. He runs it back and forth to smooth the area out. You thank him and go back home. But wait! When you look at the hood of the car the next day, it is not the same color as the rest of the car. You call the body shop guy.“No problem!” he says. “We can fix that.” He tells you that to fix it, he can zap it with a special laser. But the laser is located at a different body shop, also a distance from your home.

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Trying to make things work

The people who own the laser will let the body shop guy use it for free, making it also free for you, but you must arrive there at 7 in the morning. That’s the only time of the day the body shop guy can use it. The rest of the day, the people who own the laser use it for their regular clients. You can have access to the laser at a more convenient time, but it will run you into the thousands of dollars. Also, you learn that you must get this done three times, a month apart. And you will have to keep your car out of the sun; if it gets too much sunlight, the treated area will turn a dark, ugly color. The whole thing is not imperative. The hood of your car does not look bad, but it does not look good either.

Is all of this worth it?

You decide to go ahead with it. But on the morning of the appointment, you take a wrong turn. You will get there a little bit late. The mechanic calls to see where you are. He says he cannot see you, because he needs to be somewhere else and also has to turn the laser over to the regular people. You drive back home and rebook, wondering if it is worth it after all.

Now let's get to the analogy

This is the story of the squamous cell carcinoma removed from the tip of my nose. The Mohs surgeon ended up putting in 12 stitches. When I went back months later for a Mohs on the top of my head, I pointed out the red area on the tip of my nose, or the proverbial hood of my car. They said no problem; they could smooth it out with microdermabrasion. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons describes the treatment this way: “Microdermabrasion treatments use a minimally abrasive instrument to gently sand your skin, removing the thicker, uneven outer layer.”

It's not the worst thing ever, but it's not great either

The rest is almost exactly the same as the car story, except that it is my nose and not the hood of a car. Compared to all the horrible things that happen to people, this is no big deal. It is fixable. But nonetheless, it is a big pain. It is time spent arranging, time spent driving, money spent on gas. And then there is the procedure itself.

I might as well do it, I guess

I asked what it felt like, and the dermatologist said just like someone was letting a rubber band snap multiple times on your skin. It is elective and I don’t have to do it and the red line will eventually fade. But since it is offered and the car, er, um, I mean my nose, has gone this far, I figure I might as well follow through.

Would you be annoyed if your car/nose had to go through all of this?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SkinCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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