Selfies that matter

Selfies matter.

We take many selfies, but have you considered snapping a few pictures of your skin and moles to keep as a reference?

Taking pictures of your skin provides valuable information: if a mole is changing, a biopsy is frequently indicated. If not, and the appearance is not convincing for malignancy, why biopsy?

Recently, I saw a patient for whom I suggested monitoring her moles with  photographs. Upon returning after three months, the patient stated assuredly that the mole on her shoulder had not changed.  When I compared the moles with side-by-side pictures, the mole had changed and the biopsy revealed an evolving melanoma that required additional surgery to ensure complete removal.

I welcome pictures from patients. The photo not only provides information on how it looked, but also enables me to deduce whether change has occurred. One photo affects my decision-making process.

Additionally this month, I saw a young mother who had an infection on her face. She visited a stat-care facility on the day before and received antibiotics. When I looked at her pictures, I knew that her therapy was working and she did not require any change in therapy. That change would have been antibiotics administered at the hospital for her cellulitis, a serious skin infection.

I have made these decisions with the use of one photograph:

  1. Obtaining a biopsy of a changing mole: most proven to be cancerous or premalignant
  2. Avoiding a biopsy
  3. Confirming the site of a previous biopsy before surgery
  4.  Altering treatment
  5.  Avoiding blood tests
  6. Determining the efficacy of procedures and skincare regimens


Having a photograph as a record enables you and your doctor with the decision making process.  Especially today, with the frustrations of navigating the healthcare system, anything that you can do to take charge, advocate for your health, and be empowered, can affect outcome. Having a record of your moles in an organized way helps alleviate some of the frustrations. Understanding the needs of the patient, along with the importance of monitoring skin and moles for change, motivated the development of the application CompariSkin, with its’ innovative software.

CompariSkin was created to help patients track their skin and moles for change, or mole mapping.

Research has proven that mole mapping detects skin cancer earlier and reduces unnecessary biopsies.

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer (4,000,000 per year). The growth rate of melanoma, the deadliest of skin cancers, continues to increase. One person dies every hour from melanoma (79,800 cases per year).

Although mole mapping is performed at most major teaching health centers, the procedure is rarely performed in the doctor’s office. Several estimates state that than fewer than 5% of dermatologists perform mole mapping.  Today’s technology assists you with mapping your skin. The objective is to detect changes sooner, which could indicate skin cancer, as well as to minimize unnecessary biopsies, surgeries, scars, and expense. Furthermore, instead of wondering whether a mole has changed, it can be reassuring to look at a photograph.

Did you know that radiologists compare prior xrays and universally comment on any change in their report? Why is this practice of comparing pictures not being performed by more physicians? I am disappointed that our electronic medical records  lack organization  when viewing and comparing photographs.

The application is unique and the most thorough application because you use reproducible 3D imaging with side-by-side, and overlaid images. These features provide consistency  to objectively judge change. The program allows you to compare, both skin zones and close-ups, in the most thorough, organized way.

Who should be mapped?

Have you had a biopsy that was unnecessary?

Do you have a birthmark or congenital nevi, personal or family history of melanoma or atypical or dysplastic moles? Do you have greater than 20 moles on a leg or 11 on the right arm or over 50 total, history of tanning beds, two or more sunburns, fair skin, green or blue eyes or blond or red hair? Are you immunosuppressed? Have you had skin cancer? With a history of one basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer, there is a 45% chance for another.

Do you wonder whether your procedures and skincare are delivering expected results? The answer is clear with viewing side-by-side, before and after pictures.

The signs of skin cancer can be a new mole, a bleeding spot, or an itching growth. Most melanomas develop new, not from a preexisting mole, after the age forty.

The ABCDEs of melanoma:

A (symmetry)

B (border)

C (color variegated)

D (diameter greater than a Pencil eraser)

E (evolution)

E, for change, is the most important sign. That is why monitoring your moles is so important: any detected change warrants a visit to your doctor to determine whether skin cancer is developing and whether to surgically to remove the growth. If your doctor finds a suspicious mole, he or she may suggest short term monitoring of one body area for three to four months. If you detect any change, prompt and complete removal of the mole is indicated.

Simply snapping a picture of your skin enables you to tell a story of change and to provide information that can be critical for the decision-making process. Furthermore, the app assists with record keeping by enabling you to see reports and the location of any surgery.

While no application can replace a visit to your doctor, taking charge of your health can affect the outcome.

Advocate for your health.

Download the most thorough and innovative skin application, CompariSkin, today, and start taking selfies that really matter.


Gary Lichten, M.D.