What is Total Body Photography (Mole Mapping)?
Total body photography (also known as “mole mapping”) is a comprehensive surveillance tool aid in identifying new or changed moles, and monitor for any changes in size, color, and overall appearance. A set of high-resolution photographs is taken of the skin in various poses, in order to document existing moles throughout your skin. These photographs can be used at future visits with your dermatologist to help monitor for new or changing moles. Any new or changing moles can be closely examined by your dermatologist, and removed for biopsy if needed.
Why is Total Body Photography Performed?
Total body photography is a screening tool that helps your dermatologist find any new or changing moles. Abnormal or changing moles may be a sign of melanoma, which is a potentially life-threatening skin cancer. Early detection of melanoma increases your chances of cure and survival.
Just like any screening tool, total body photography is not 100% effective at detecting abnormal moles or melanoma. It is very important to perform regular self-skin examinations and to undergo regular full skin exams with your dermatologist. Total body photography does not replace your yearly skin examination; it is a supplemental tool to help your dermatologist with detection of abnormal moles or melanoma.
Who Can Benefit from Total Body Photography?
Total body photography can be performed on anyone who wants to undergo comprehensive screening for abnormal moles and melanoma. It is especially recommended for patients who have:
multiple moles and freckles
a personal or family history of skin cancer
a history of excessive sun exposure or sunburns
fair skin complexion
concerns about moles that may change
a history of atypical moles
What Happens at My Total Body Photography Appointment?
You will be scheduled for a photography session with one of our trained medical staff. Please wear comfortable clothing that you can remove easily. Avoid wearing make-up and jewelry, and keep hair pulled up and away from your face. Your entire visit will take place in our private clinical studio, where your privacy and comfort will be of the upmost importance. You will be asked to undress and provided with disposable undergarments (to help maintain your privacy as well as the integrity of your photographs). We strongly recommend that you undress completely for your photographs, because atypical skin lesions may be hidden by clothing. If you prefer to remain partially dressed for your photography session, please let your photographer know. You are welcome to bring a relative or friend with you to your appointment. If the patient is younger than 18 years, a parent or legal guardian must be present throughout the appointment.
One of our trained medical professionals will operate our FotoFinder® to take your photographs. A second member of our medical staff may be present as a chaperone. A typical session includes a series of 16 photographs of the various zones of the body, including breasts and genitals (unless you decline photography of these areas). Prior to your session, you will be asked to sign an informed consent form. The entire visit takes about 30 minutes.
What Happens to My Photographs?
Your full body photographs are stored in our local secure server. They are not stored in an off-site location (i.e. “the cloud"). Your photographs are never shared or viewed by anyone except your dermatologist and photographer. You will be provided with a digital copy of your photographs if you would like them, and you will be responsible for keeping your copies secure and private.
How Often is Total Body Photography Performed?
We may recommend that certain patients have their total body photography session be repeated at regular intervals for (most commonly every two years), to aid in the detection of new or changing moles. Our FotoFinder® system includes a state-of-the-art software program that digitally monitors your skin for abnormal moles by comparing your photographs from session to session. This provides an additional degree of early detection / suspicion of abnormal moles, in addition to your yearly skin exam with a dermatologist.
How Much Does Total Body Photography Cost?
There is a $ 180 fee for a total body photography session if you are a patient of A & G Dermatology, which we believe is an investment in your health . This procedure is generally not covered by insurance. Subsequent photo sessions are at a reduced fee. You may contact your insurance company to request reimbursement of your cost, and we will provide billing codes at your request. Payment is due at the time of your photo session.
Please contact our office at (773) 237-7546 if you are interested in scheduling a total body photography appointment.
Please be advised that all patients that undergo a total body photography session MUST first have one of our dermatologists perform a complete skin exam.
If you currently do not have a dermatologist, one of our board-certified dermatologists would be happy to perform your full skin exam prior to your total body photography appointment.