What are moles?
A mole is a skin growth, containing pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. It may be raised, or subdermal (beneath the skin). A typical mole appears before the age of 20, as a small, symmetrical, dark spot.
Why remove moles?
A healthy mole does not pose a hazard to your health, although some moles can develop into melanoma (an aggressive form of skin cancer). The most common reason for removing moles is cosmetic. The typically dark color can make them very difficult to disguise with cosmetic products. They tend to appear on the areas of the body that are exposed to sunlight, meaning that they are frequently visible.
If you choose not to have your moles removed, it is important to monitor them. Call us right away if you notice changes in the appearance of a mole, such as bleeding, increasing in size, or changing color.
Mole removal and other treatments
Skin enhancements such as microdermabrasion and chemical peels can improve the color, texture, and laxity of skin. These procedures can also reduce fine lines and treat skin conditions such as acne. However, these options do not remove, or significantly improve the appearance of, most moles. A comprehensive treatment plan designed to address all of your cosmetic concerns often includes mole removal procedures.
Mole removal at Dr. W Dermatology
Each patient, and each mole, is unique. At Dr. W Dermatology, we use several methods of mole removal, depending on the situation:
- Electrocautery – This technique is a good option for certain types of moles. An electrical cauterizing device is used to heat the mole. It does not cause scarring, because only the outermost layer receives heat.
- Excision – This is a highly effective method of surgically removing moles. After the area is numbed, the doctor will make an eye-shaped incision, because it allows for precision stitching. This technique is typically used for potentially cancerous moles, so that a pathologist can analyze the tissue.
- Shave removal – This fast and effective technique can be completed in a matter of minutes, using only local anesthetic.
There are several types of moles. Some of the most common include:
- Congenital Nevi – These moles are present at birth, and affect approximately one percent of the population. Depending upon their size, they may be more likely to become cancerous than moles developing later in life.
- Dysplastic Nevi – This term is used to refer to moles that have biopsy features that look different from normal, but they have not progressed to become a cancerous mole. This tendency can be hereditary so family members may also have them. They are also called atypical moles and can have an irregular shape or the color is often uneven. If you are diagnosed with Dysplastic nevi you should have your moles examined regularly by a dermatologist.
- Intradermal Nevi – These moles are typically flesh colored and raised above the skin. Depending upon their size and location they are removed more for appearance purposes or because they get irritated. They have a very low risk for becoming cancerous.
- Junctional Nevi – These are characterized by an area of dark coloration such as brown to black, but they are flat. If a mole is raised and dark in color it is referred to as a Compound Nevus which represents a combination of a Junctional and Intradermal nevus together.