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Mole Removal

Moles are the result of the accumulation of melanocytes, or pigmented cells, in a localized area. Referred to as nevi, moles come in all shapes, sizes, and a variety of colors. Some may be very light and barely noticeable, while others are red, brown, or black, making them difficult to disguise. Typically, moles are considered harmless but should always be checked if they change rapidly. However, some moles may present cosmetic concerns depending on where they are located.

The location and size of a mole may cause cosmetic concerns as well as physical irritation. For instance, if a mole exists on a certain part of the neck, it may become caught in a necklace, causing discomfort and sometimes bleeding. We think these are good reasons to seek cosmetic mole removal, and we are happy to help you feel more comfortable and more satisfied with your appearance. More than just removing moles for cosmetic reasons, our team ensures that we evaluate all moles before removal to rule out abnormalities that may indicate skin cancer.

Mole Removal Methods

There are a few ways that moles may be removed to create a more attractive appearance. When the growth is superficial and raised, we may perform a shave excision. Comfort is a priority, and we achieve this with the use of local anesthetic before mole removal procedures. The shave technique involves a transverse incision that “shaves” the growth from the skin’s surface. In many cases, this results in healing into a barely perceptible scar.

Moles that are deeper may require that we make a small incision around the border in order to ensure full removal. Perpendicular incision is closed with sutures, and may result in a small scar.

Mole Removal Recovery

Recovery depends on the approach used to remove the mole and the size of the affected area. After mole removal, bandages are applied to the skin to protect it as it heals. The affected area may feel slightly itchy or sore as it heals. Over-the-counter medication can help to alleviate discomfort. The bandages need to be changed periodically during the recovery period to keep the treated area clean. Applying a moisturizing ointment to the skin may help to reduce any resulting scar. It is also important to keep the treated skin out of the sun as it heals; this reduces the likelihood that the scar will darken or discolor.

Preventing Moles

Most people have several moles. Some nevi are predetermined by genetics, and many are present at birth. For obvious reasons, there is no way to prevent such moles from developing. However, there are other factors in mole growth that are well within your control.

Aside from genetic predisposition, UV exposure causes most moles to develop. This provides you with the opportunity to minimize your risk of new moles by practicing healthy sun habits. Moles result from all UV exposure, not just from a sunburn or excessive time in the sun. To minimize the chance that sun damage will cause new moles – or skin cancer – to develop on your body use broad-spectrum sunscreen on a daily basis, and avoid indoor tanning.

Frequently Asked Questions About Moles and Mole Removal

Can I get rid of a mole by myself?

Under no circumstances should you try to shave off or cut out a mole by yourself, as it can lead to bleeding, infection or unsightly scarring. You should see an experienced dermatologist to have any moles safely removed.

How do I know if a mole is cancerous?

The only way to determine that a mole is cancerous is to consult with a dermatologist. After looking at the mole, the doctor may take a tissue sample to send to a laboratory to confirm or rule out skin cancer.

Signs that suggest a mole may be cancerous include the following:

  • It is asymmetrical (i.e., not round)
  • It has an irregular or poorly defined border
  • It contains many colors, including a mix of tan, brown, red or pink
  • Its diameter is larger than the size of a pencil eraser
  • It differs in appearance from other moles, or undergoes changes in size, shape or color

Can a cancerous mole kill you?

The earlier a cancerous mole is detected, the more curable it is. If left undetected or untreated, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body and in the worst case, lead to death.

Can you get a mole removed from your face?

Yes. Dermatologists can shave off or surgically excise facial moles. When performed by a an experienced dermatologist, facial mole removal scars may be minimal.

How painful is mole removal?

Prior to removing the mole, the area will be numbed so only minimal discomfort, if any, is experienced.

Do moles grow back after being removed?

Moles usually do not grow back after treatment. However, there is a possibility depending on the type of removal performed.

Does mole removal leave scars?

Surgically removing a mole may leave a scar. However, many factors such as mole location/size, type of removal and skin type may contribute to the possibility of scarring.

Coastal Skin & Eye Institute/Grossmont Dermatology