Moles are clusters of pigmented cells found on the skin that often vary in appearance throughout the years. While most changes are harmless, some may indicate that the mole is/has become a malignant melanoma, a life-threatening cancer. In the past, the only way to determine if a mole was cancerous was to take a biopsy, which involves numbing the skin and cutting into it to take a sample for testing. The VivaScope, however, is a brand new, noninvasive diagnostic tool that can achieve the same results. It uses high-tech imaging to look into the skin and detect potential cancerous developments.
E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork has a number of moles on his back and undergoes the VivaScope test to determine if any are cancerous.
"The good thing about the imaging is that it doesn't hurt, it doesn't destroy any tissue, but it lets us get an idea of what's going on underneath the skin's surface," dermatologist Dr. Kelly Nelson, from the Duke University Medical Center, says.
The ABCDE Warning Signs of Melanoma:
See your doctor if you notice any of the following:
• Asymmetry — A mole should be symmetrical. If you draw a line down your mole, and one side is larger than the other, see your doctor.
• Border — A mole should be even and smooth. If the borders are uneven, scalloped or notched, see your doctor.
• Color — A mole should be one color. If your mole is variegated, or if there are various shades of brown, tan, black or red in the mole, see your doctor.
• Diameter — Technically, moles can be varying sizes, but if your mole is bigger than an eraser point on a pencil, see your doctor.
• Evolving — If your mole starts to change size, color or elevation, see your doctor.
"The most important is 'E,' or evolution," Dr. Nelson says. "If you have a mole that's changing, that's something that should be taken very seriously."
Download a body mole map to learn how to track your moles, and find free skin cancer screenings near you.
Last-Minute Cosmetic Fixes
Do you need a quick-fix to look your best for a big event? Plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon shares last-minute procedures that can help you perfect your appearance.
Balloon Surgery for Weight Loss
Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Sanjeev Kaila discusses gastric ballooning, a new weight loss procedure in which a balloon is inserted into the stomach and filled with water to help a person feel full. The procedure is not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, but it is approved in Dr. Kaila's home country of Canada. Dr. Kaila explains that the procedure is performed while a patient is sedated and takes approximately 10 minutes. The balloon stays in the stomach for up to six months, and then is removed.
"The old way was either a formal operation, the bypass, or a banding, both of which are invasive," Dr. Ordon says. "This is basically just passing a tube [down the throat]."
Lose Weight with Twitter
Bo, 24, is a dancer who has always struggled with her weight. To help motivate her to make better food decisions, be accountable for her choices and exercise, pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears recommends the Withings WiFi Body Scale, which Tweets your weight when you step on it!
"I don't want to make you crazy, and make you starve yourself and drop an unhealthy amount of weight," Dr. Jim says, "but, it might help you think twice before eating a late-night burrito, knowing you have to weigh in the next morning."
After using the scale for a few days, Bo Tweeted that she was making better food choices and exercising, and went from weighing 165.6 pounds to 163.5 pounds!
"It wasn't embarrassing [to have my weight published on Twitter]," Bo says. "It was more of a competition thing, that competitive edge it gave me to give it out to the public and [let them] see it there. I didn't want people to think I wasn't making any effort toward it."