July 31, 2012 at 12:45 PM ET
The most shocking sight to me is Chinese weightlifter Zhang Jie’s big, hairy facial mole.
Zhang sports a mole on the side of his chin that must measure at least half an inch in diameter. Long, wiry, black hair protrudes from it, resembling the whiskers of a cat.
As a plastic surgeon, I recommend that he have the mole removed. It resembles a congenital hairy nevus, which carries a 0.8-4.9 percent risk of turning into skin cancer. The best treatment for moles like this is surgical excision.
So why hasn’t Zhang had it cut off?
Even more important, why doesn’t he clip those hairs?
According to the Chinese Fortune Calendar, dark moles are often considered good luck. Hairy moles signify even better luck than bald ones, as they are regarded as healthier. This belief may actually be supported medically: Cancerous moles often lose their hair, as the cancer cells invade the hair follicle, causing the hair shafts to fall out. Therefore, hairy moles are considered less likely to be cancerous than non-hairy ones.
So was Zhang’s congenital hairy nevus good luck?
Not really. Although he was the favorite to win the 62-kilogram competition, Zhang ended up placing fourth.
Time to call the plastic surgeon.
Dr. Anthony Youn is a Michigan-based cosmetic surgeon and frequent NBCNews.com and TODAY.com contributor. He is the author of the book "In Stitches," a humorous memoir about becoming a doctor.