Kiwi Skin Stories
Lifestyle and fashion editor Megan Robinson is a melanoma survivor, so she takes her regular skin check-ups seriously. Here, she explains what happens during a Full Body MoleMap – and what skin cancer signs to watch out for.
“Today I'm wearing 'hospital chic' rather than my usual outfits, I'm in a fetching blue gown at NorthMed Akoranga Drive for a Full Body MoleMap. MoleMap hosted me to spread the word about having regular skin check-ups to help prevent melanoma. I think you should get checked out too if you have any concerns, as this is one case where the old adage 'an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure' definitely rings true."
"I’m a melanoma survivor so I think it’s so important to get our skin checked every year - today I got photographed and a report will be emailed to me with photos and any concerns."
What happens when you go for a Full Body MoleMap
Firstly, you book online or ring them to book on 0800 665 362. The appointment is scheduled for one hour, and you’ll get reminder emails beforehand. Before your appointment, it’s a good idea to have a look over your own skin, including your scalp and note down anything you would like to ask questions about. TIP: ask your partner or a friend to tell you if they see anything different as you often can't see behind you.
Left: Megan looking relaxed before her Full Body MoleMap appointment
At the MoleMap appointment
When you arrive, you’re greeted by your Melanographer (a trained clinical nurse). I had Michelle who has 17 years of experience and you can ask her anything. She said how much she enjoys her job and the wide variety of interesting people she meets. They are extremely professional and you don't feel at all weird wearing a gown and having photos taken of your skin as they do this everyday and are such pros. You’re given a gown and changing area and you wear underwear and no makeup or nail polish so that they can see your skin surface and nail beds.
Full Body MoleMap for new patients
So, what happens on your first visit? At your first appointment, a baseline photographic record of your skin is created, wearing only your underwear. After that, they individually map each mole or lesion of concern, using a special camera. They spray the mole, take a photo of it up close using a special camera, and mark it with a pen so they know it's been done. They do this all over, from head to toe.
Left: One of MoleMap's specially designed cameras, designed to look deep into the structure of a mole
After the appointment
Your photos get sent to an expert dermatologist who will review your file and prepare a report (which you should receive within 10 working days). You’re given a card with a number on it at the appointment so you can simply log on at home and see your results. In many cases there's nothing of concern, but the report may include recommendations regarding treatment or monitoring of specific lesions.
Follow up over time
The beauty of MoleMap’s skin-mapping system is that they can compare your photos over time to track any changes. The dermatologist will review images to detect very early changes not visible with the naked eye.
Fact sheet from melanoma.org.nz
Factors that may contribute to melanoma:
Megan Robinson is editor of a New Zealand fashion and culture website. You can follow her blogs on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.