Most people have at least a few moles and it is considered normal to have 10-40 of them. When certain cells grow in clusters rather than spreading throughout the skin, moles appear. These cells are called melanocytes and are the reason moles appear dark. They also get darker when exposed to direct sunlight, during teenage years or pregnancy when hormones are changing. Moles can appear anywhere on the body, and most are harmless. On the other hand, some can be cancerous.
There are three main reasons people want a mole removed. The most important reason is that their dermatologist thinks the mole should be tested to see if it is cancerous. However, many people remove moles because they are unsightly. Moles are also removed because they are uncomfortable. They may be under the arm or on the inside of the thigh and constantly rub, causing irritation or catch on jewelry or clothing. If your moles do not bother you, but one looks different from the others, it is important to have it checked by our dermatologist who will have it tested for cancer.
The two main ways moles are removed are with a surgical excision and shave. Some moles are just on the surface of the skin while some have roots that go deeper. The dermatologist will determine if stitches or cauterization is required. Both of these methods are surgical procedures, and a topical anesthetic will be needed. Some moles only require one office visit, but some may need two.
Mole shaving is a procedure where our dermatologist shaves off the mole at or slightly below skin level. The area will bleed, and either a liquid or an electrical instrument will be used to cauterize the area. This should never be done at home. If you do it yourself, there is a good chance you will cause a scar or other permanent marks. If the mole contains skin cancer, the cells will stay in the skin and may even spread. There is also a high risk of infection.
Surgical excision is a procedure where our dermatologist cuts out the mole below skin level. This procedure requires one or two stitches to close the skin. If the doctor suspects skin cancer, he or she will send the mole to the lab for a biopsy where it will be tested for cancer cells.
Very small moles may be removed with a punch. This is like a cookie cutter device that makes a small incision around the mole. However, the most effective treatment is excision because there is rarely any doubt that the whole mole with roots has been removed. It is painless, quick and has the best chance of not leaving a scar.
Moles are common features on the skin of most people, and some are quite lovely if they are in just the right place on the face. However, many moles are unsightly or uncomfortable, and you would be better off without them. Fortunately, removing moles is an easy process, and we at Doctor’s Approach® can help you be mole-free. Our team of dermatologists will be able to answer any questions or concerns you might have. Once you have the information you need to decide if removing moles is right for you, contact us to schedule a consultation.