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HORIZON BLOG

Growths on Mom's Face

Question

        My mother has odd little distracting growths on her face. Her doctor says they are nothing to worry about medically. I think that mom should have them removed because they detract from her beautiful face, but mom is lukewarm on the idea.

I do believe what her doctor says that there is no medical harm in these growths. I just think that she should have them removed anyway. Frankly, I would get it taken care of if it were my face.

I guess it concerns me that mom seems to care less about her appearance than she did when she was younger.  Is this a sign of dementia or depression? Why doesn’t she do something about her appearance?

--Reader

 

Answer

Odd little growths and spots are common in humans of any age, though they increase as we age.  Newborns and small children seem to be the only group in our species with very few lesions on their bodies.

What is most important is that the growth is not harmful. It is very important to verify with a medical professional that new skin lesions are not cancerous. Fast growing, irregular, bleeding, discolored lesions need to be checked out. 

Then we get into how lesions look. They are distinctive and they are markers. They can be visually distracting for some and no bother to others. There is a very high probability that her lesions can be removed if she desires. It is almost always considered cosmetic by insurance, and an out-of-pocket expense, therefore, cost could be her barrier. Some individuals will simply just live with lesions rather than bare the expense, though it should not be cost prohibitive to have a small lesion removed. 

Now to your preference versus hers. If a lesion is not medically harmful to her health, there is really no reason to remove it, except for how it looks. Indeed, people will notice facial lesions but much less so on other parts of the body.

If your mother has a very distracting facial growth, offer to set up an appointment with a dermatologist and to go with her. She will likely get the message that how it looks bothers you.  She will have the option of saying no that way and will let you know if she does not care how it looks.  If she jumps at the suggestion that you set something up, then you know she agrees and has interest in resolving the situation. 

Sometimes we get used to how we see ourselves in the mirror and do not even realize how we appear to others. Your subtle offer will give you a clear indication if your mother is interested in resolution or the status quo. 

If your mother chooses to do nothing, I advise that you let it go. I believe that she will ponder a negative decision on her part, so do not be surprised if she changes her mind later. 

Appearance can be a touchy subject for us to navigate with our parents. As we age it becomes harder to button clothing, reach our feet, and simply get out of chairs. A small skin lesion may just not be that important in her situation. It is not unusual to let some things be as they are at some point, if no harm comes from it. Do be aware of other larger issues that could be impacting her seemingly laisse faire attitude.

Your mother is not necessarily depressed or demented because she is not as interested in her appearance as in the past. Dementia would have numerous other signs that you have not mentioned. Depression is a possibility, though you have not mentioned other issues that suggest depression. 

Offer to assist her and see how she responds. Follow her lead and assist her if she is willing.  I wish you well on this journey together.

 

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