Moles are small, colored spots on the skin. They are benign skin growths that are commonly a brownish color. Most people have them and they're usually nothing to worry about unless they change size, shape or color. They can occur in children and may continue to appear throughout life. They fade or disappear as you get older and they may get slightly darker during pregnancy.
Causes of Moles
- Moles occur when cells in the skin grow in a cluster instead of being spread throughout the skin.
- Sun exposure seems to play a role in the development of moles
- Genetics- Many families have a type of mole known as dysplastic or atypical, which is linked to a higher risk of melanoma or skin cancer.
Types of Moles
- Congenital naevi are moles that appear at birth.
- Dysplastic naevi are moles that are larger than average and irregular in shape. They tend to have uneven colour with dark brown centres and lighter, uneven edges. These moles tend to be hereditary and have a greater chance of developing melanoma.
Reasons for Mole Removal
- Doubt about the diagnosis and concern whether the mole is a melanoma skin cancer
- Physically the mole has become troublesome, catching on clothes, etc
- Cosmetic reasons
- It’s extremely important to stay out of the sun
- Wear a hat and sunglasses
- Regularly apply a high-factor sunscreen
Types of Mole Removal Procedure
When it comes to mole removal, your doctor or dermatologist will determine the right method for you.
- Shave excision: Shave excision is one of the most common ways dermatologists remove moles. After numbing the area, the mole will be sliced off with a sharp scalpel blade, no sutures required. The mole is actually "shaved off" at a very superficial level. The procedure typically takes less than a minute, and is fairly painless.
- Surgical excision: Excision involves cutting around the mole, removing the entire thickness of skin, and then closing the area with stitches. This will leave a scar, but it is usually an inconspicuous line, and it's less likely for the mole will recur with this procedure.
- Before mole removal, it is important you first consult with a dermatologist to ensure the mole is not concerning for melanoma.
- Once the mole has been assessed, a discussion should be had on whether a shave removal or excision would have the best outcome.
- With elevated moles a shave removal is usually performed which can leave a good cosmetic result in most cases. For flat moles, excision is usually performed,
- The area to be treated will be cleaned, then numbed with local anaesthetic.
- The surgeon uses a scalpel to shave the mole so that it’s level or slightly below the skin
- Then, either an electrical tool is used to cauterize or burn the area - or a solution is used to stop any bleeding
- After this, the wound is covered with a sterile dressing
- You are usually able to go home shortly after
Surgical excision (Removal with stitches)
- Moles that need surgical excision are usually darker in color, flat moles
- A scalpel is used to cut the mole and a border of normal skin surrounding the mole.
- Depending on the depth of the mole or how much it penetrates into the skin, dissolvable stitches may be used or the surface of the skin may be stitched closed and the stitches taken out later
- It is important the mole be sent for pathology examination
- No hospitalization required a patient will be sent home
- After removal of mole, the wound area should be kept clean and sterile dressing applied.
- Patients can wash and shower normally the day after surgery, gently dabbing the area dry afterward.
- Antibiotic ointment applied daily as the shave excision site heals over the next week or so.
- Sunscreen is also important to protect the surgical site from UV exposure for one year postoperatively as the scar fades
- Simple mole removals usually don’t require a follow-up, but If there is anything unusual found in biopsy report then you need to revisit the doctor
- Stitches are usually removed from 7 to 21 days.
- Important to avoid injury to the area
Complications of Mole Removal
The risks of removing moles vary from
- Nerve damage.
- Other risks vary depending on the area being treated and the method of removal.
Factors affecting cost for mole removal
- The dermatologist choosen, experience of the dermatologist
- The price is based upon the size, shape, location, and complexity of the removal.
- Number of moles to be removed
- Type of technique used
- Cost for biopsy
- Cost of follow-up, if malignant