Making mountains out of moles at 

Holy Moley Matt Damon

Actor and Oscar-winning screenwriter Damon is haunting in his successful film "Good Will Hunting." It takes little hunting to find his numerous moles. It has been shown that families with irregularly colored moles (called dysplastic moles) have increased rates of melanoma skin cancer. A recent study has also established that people with many moles (dysplastic or not) are also at higher risk for melanoma. People with moles should have them checked periodically, especially if any change in shape, size or color.

So just what are those spots on Gwyneth Paltrow's forehead?

What are these spots which are consistently visible in Paltrow's films? Could they be warts contracted during one of the starlet's affairs? Precancerous tumors elicited by sun exposure to this actor's fair skin? Lesions of leprosy acquired while shooting in New Delhi? To the surprise of no one, has been besieged with server-clogging e-mail demanding the resolution of this mystery. We at the website met in overtime board meetings debating how to address this media onslaught. Several of the staff overdosed on cafe lattes and are still in recovery with the aid of nicotine patches. Obviously, the will of the web won out. MP3 recorded drum roll please. Ms. Paltrow's forehead lesions are...moles.

These moles may not be particularly large or striking, but anything about the phenomenon known to many as merely Gwyneth catches the eye. Though the forehead is not the most aesthetically desirable place to have a mole (think Cyclops territory), her two forehead moles are often hard to see. As is common with facial moles, the pigment cells are deep, so the mole itself is flesh-colored. It is highly unlikely that this type of fleshy mole would be pre-cancerous. Clearly her countenance is not quite as defect-free as the Oscar award that she received, but there is no need to make a mountain out of these moles. Whew! With that cleared up, international e-commerce can resume and life at our little web site can return to its hectic but survivable pace!

Russell Crowe: Maximus has a maximal multitude of moles
Much of the success of the film "Gladiator" is due to the efforts of actor Russell Crowe. No one questions Crowe's dedication to the craft. With each role, he attempts to inhabit the character rather than just "phone it in." (Insert own phone-throwing scandal joke here). We admit it would be hard to "phone in" a role in cellular-free Ancient Rome--no wonder he also got an Oscar! That statuette matches his award at He certainly has his share of moles, likely souvenirs from his childhood growing up in New Zealand and Australia. Moles are thought to develop from a genetic predisposition, but enhanced by early sun exposure. What moles we've seen on Crowe appear benign: evenly colored, sharply bordered, and small. Of particular note is the large mole between his eyebrows. This represents another dermal mole, with pigment cells resting deep so the mole is large, protuberant, yet flesh colored. Certainly not the classic beauty mark, it will be interesting to see if Crowe ever elects to have it removed. If this lesion grows any larger, tabloids might start making third eye comments. If he does desire excision, we recommend a sterile scalpel rather than rusty Roman blade.

Julia Roberts, arguably Hollywood's biggest box office draw, displays one of tinsel town's tiniest lesions. Most cite Roberts' winning smile as a major asset, but we at feel that her subtle mole plays an equally large role in drawing crowds to multiplexes. A classic beauty mark, this "young" dark flat lesion draws attention to the eyes, the window of an actress' soul and the source of million dollar paychecks.


 A lesion which has not played a role in her success is this fleshy chest mole. Equally benign in appearance as her facial spot, this protuberant growth is never seen in standard publicity photos, even when Roberts reveals decolletage. Unlike dark flat beauty marks, these raised lumpy moles are not considered aesthetically desirable. Over a lifetime, many moles will become elevated and skin colored as their pigment cells drift deeper into the skin. Removal of these moles is almost as easy as Erin Brockovich single-handedly prosecuting a huge power company. Yet since this mole does not show the signs of pre-cancerous change (irregular color or border), there appears no medical need for its removal. And with a white hot career like Roberts', no droopy mole can slow her down. It won't stop this pretty woman, this runaway bride, American's sweetheart from Notting Hill, with her Mona Lisa smile, sleeping with the enemy, serving Mystic pizza at her best friend's wedding.


Not all celebs are so lucky. For some, their fame grows so rapidly, that their growths are left behind.

Charismatic crooner Enrique Iglesias surprised legions of swooning fans by having his signature spot sent the way of most pop star's careers. Because his mole showed no signs of irregularity, the surgical removal was probably for cosmetic rather than medical concerns.

 Young Gordon Sumner's chin mole looked much like a bee sting.

In "Dune," it is bigger and darker.

Wait, what is he doing with that knife?

Knife or no, the mole is now gone.

Along with hopes for a reunion of the Police.

Geriatric Grammy winner Sting also tired of his mole. Initially small and dark, it grew large and lumpy. Now every breath he takes, every move he makes, he'll be watching...his scar. 

Jack Nicholson with blue mole.

 Jack without. He doesn't look pleased with the result.

In roles from the 1970's, superstar Jack Nicholson displayed a blue bump on his upper cheek. By "The Shining" (1980), the lesion had been removed. The blue mole, or blue nevus, is composed of pigment cells that lie deeper in the dermis than regular moles. Not surprisingly considering its name, the lesion is blue in color. While benign (most blue moles do not turn into skin cancer), the dark color can sometimes resemble melanoma skin cancer. Any suspicious pigmented lesion (varied color, shape, border or increasing size) deserves evaluation by a physician. And any knife wielding psychopath deserves center stage in a Steven King tale.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, famous in Pumping Iron

And infamous in the B-movie,
"Hercules in New York"

Not everyone wants their moles. Action star Arnold Schwarzenegger, shown here early in his career, must not have liked this large mole on his jaw. It has since been removed. Now with a political career, one wonders if he could terminate this movie from his resume.

© 1996-2008 Vail Reese M.D.

Dr. Reese's office