Wednesday, September 17, 2014

“Freckle’s Ugly Cousin …” Said Kramer

Remember that Seinfeld episode when Kramer is mistaken for a doctor due to the white butcher’s coat he’s wearing and he gives George’s boss, Kruger, a mole check? Well, I had the line stuck on repeat in my head a whole afternoon recently.

It’s something that I don’t look forward to but it needs to be done every year. And what’s that? A mole check. Yeah, sexy and the stats are just as not sexy – according to, there will be 76,100 new cases of melanoma in the United States this year and 9,710 deaths from it. So while you can do some things to prevent melanoma, if you do have or see a mole appear, try and remember the ABCDE’s of mole checking so you know what is normal and what is not.  

I’m not a big fan of just having a Dermatologist give my skin the once over with the naked eye as, like us, they’re only human and can miss things. But if you do find one that is questionable, before getting an invasive biopsy, there is now an option that can tell if a mole is cancerous or not.

NIDIskin is the first imaging center devoted solely to Non-Invasive Diagnostic Imaging of the Skin. In other words, they have a machine that can look deep into the skin to see what’s below it. The technology has been around for 10-years and they just opened their first location in Los Angeles.

I was invited to meet with their Imaging Tech, Nicole, to see exactly how it all works. Using the FDA approved VivaCam Dermoscopy system, they can monitor your skin and moles one time or like a mammogram, you can get them all monitored each year and they can compare them from year to year for any changes in size or appearance.



First up is to take a picture of a mole that your doctor thinks might need to be looked at closer. Yup, that’s a mole above in the middle of my back. Eww, they never look very nice close up! And nice hair sticking out! haha. This picture was taken with the VivaCam, shown below, which is the only system that magnifies and illuminates the skin using a spectrum of light waves, allowing trained Dermatologists in dermoscopy up to 20% more accuracy in diagnosing skin cancer than those just perform naked-eye exams.


Now if the doctor sees something or just wants to go even deeper, there is the VivaScope, which is the machine shown in the first picture. It's able to see below the layers of skin and give the doctor a view like the picture on the monitor below (this picture shows that my mole is normal, yeah!). It uses microns to do the work so there is no radiation involved.


And you should know that neither machine hurts! What does hurt is that most insurance companies won’t cover the procedure. The cost to have one mole looked at with this VivaCam Dermoscopy system, the cost is $250, and then $200 per mole thereafter. And if you want to cover every mole on your body, they will do a full body scan starts at $350 and then every 6 months to a year, you can come back and get another scan (you have to pay the fee each time).

So while I see the benefit of this system for moles around the face or other really public areas, I’m not sure the out-of-pocket price is worth it for other areas on the body, So until insurance decides to cover at least some of the cost, I guess I'm stuck with the naked eye scan, however, it’s really great to know that this is an option should one of the many moles I have come into question.  

Read more about NIDIskin @


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