About the Treatment
Human skin and the development of moles go together — the average person has between 10 and 40 moles, most of which develop in early adulthood before the age of 30. The vast majority of these are harmless, but some, called dysplastic moles, are precursor lesions of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. That’s why it’s important for you to keep an eye on your moles, watching for changes.
What are moles?
Moles are usually brown or black and can grow anywhere on your skin. Thanks to their melanin, moles can darken with sun exposure and due to hormonal changes, such as during puberty or pregnancy. Moles can change over time, developing hairs, becoming more raised, even changing color. When those changes in height, color, size, or shape occur, that’s when a mole could be transforming from harmless to a potential future melanoma.
How do moles form?
The melanocyte cells that are responsible for your skin’s color also create moles. When these cells grow in clusters rather than being spread across the skin, that is a mole.
Should all moles be removed?
Most moles don’t require removal; they are simply harmless growths on your skin. For some people, a mole can be located in areas that are unappealing, or they may rub on your clothing. They come to us for cosmetic removal of these moles. Obviously, when a mole is showing signs of melanoma, it needs to be removed immediately and tested for skin cancer.
When To See A Doctor About A Mole
Although most moles are benign, occasionally they can be a precursor to melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. If a person has over 50 moles, he or she is at a greater risk for developing melanoma. If your mole exhibits these signs, please call us at Signature Plastic Surgery and Dermatology immediately. The mole:
- Is larger than six millimeters
- Itches and bleeds
- Changes color, size or shape
- Has multiple colors
- Is located where it can’t be easily monitored, such as on the scalp
How are moles removed?
At Signature Plastic Surgery and Dermatology, we usually remove moles in three ways:
- Excision — Some moles can be shaved off with a blade. Other moles with cells under the skin will require a deeper incision to remove the entire mole and prevent it from returning. This may require a couple of stitches to close.
- Freezing — Liquid nitrogen can be sprayed or swabbed onto the mole. This freezes the mole’s cells and they die. The mole will peel off in a week or two.
- Burning — An electric current that heats a wire can be used to burn off moles. Larger moles may take more than one treatment to fully remove them.
All of these methods are simple. Dr. Shah or our dermatologist will simply numb the area locally prior to removing the mole.
Mole Removal Recovery
Whatever method we use to remove your mole, this is a simple outpatient procedure. If the mole is excised or shaved off, there may be a couple of stitches. Otherwise, freezing and burning will merit little more than a bandage to cover the mole until it peels off. A small blister can develop around the mole when liquid nitrogen is used. Unless the mole is in a spot where it is touched or rubbed, there really isn’t any recovery with their removal.
Will mole removal leave a scar?
In most cases, the small size of moles doesn’t create any scar after their removal. There may be a small white patch afterward, but it isn’t highly noticeable.