If you’ve recently found a mole on your body that you’ve never seen before or are considering the removal of a mole you’ve had since childhood, researching the procedure beforehand is a great first step. Here are some details and more of what to expect before and after mole removal.
What Exactly is a Mole?
A mole is another name for a cluster of skin cells that appear on any part of the body. Most people describe a mole as any type of skin deformity or dark spot. The most common types of moles are birthmarks, hemangiomas, and keratoses.
Most moles will appear by the age of 20 but they’re more common among older adults. The average person has approximately 30 to 40 moles on their body, but there are some people with more than 500. Moles are quite common and the majority of them are benign. However, if you do notice a mole on your body that looks different than the rest, you should book an appointment and see a dermatologist as soon as possible.
What Causes Moles to Appear?
There are several reasons why a mole can appear on the body. For one, it could be related to genetics. Some families have dysplastic moles which means they have a higher amount of melanoma in their skin. As a result, they may have multiple moles. Sun exposure can also cause cancerous moles to appear and can lead to the development of atypical or dysplastic moles.
Are New Moles a Health Concern?
While most are harmless, new or changing moles could potentially be a sign of cancer. This is especially true if you have a close relative with a history of melanoma. If you see a new mole and it looks different than other existing moles, then that is of medical concern. We recommend following the ABCDEs, as they are signs of skin cancer. If you answer “yes” to any of the following, please book a consultation with a dermatologist as soon as possible:
- Asymmetry – Does one half of the mole look different from the other half?
- Border – Do the borders or edges of the mole look irregular or ragged?
- Color – Does your mole include shades of red, white, blue, tan, brown, or black?
- Diameter – Is the mole larger than the eraser of a pencil?
- Envolving – Has the mole changed in size, shape, or color?
How Will I Know If My Mole Is Cancerous?
The only way you can find out if a mole is cancerous is by making an appointment with your dermatologist. We’ll examine the area and determine if it’s abnormal or not. If the mole doesn’t appear normal, then a tissue sample or complete removal of the mole may be necessary.
Once the mole is removed, it’ll be sent to a lab for further observation, also known as a biopsy. If the results are positive, that means the mole is cancerous. As a result, the entire mole and some of the surrounding areas will have to be removed to reduce the number of cancerous cells in your body.
How Are Moles Removed?
Mole removal can be done in one of five ways, which include laser, punch removal, shave removal, surgical excision, and freezing.
#1 Laser Mole Removal
For laser mole removal, a burst of light is used to absorb the cells and destroy the mole tissue. This procedure is better for hard to reach or sensitive areas.
#2 Punch Removal
During this procedure, a punch tool is pushed into the skin and we twist it until we’ve cut through all skin layers.
#3 Shave Excision
For a shave excision, we will use a razor or a device with an electrode to remove the mole.
#4 Surgical Excision
During a surgical excision procedure, one of our BHSkin dermatologists will cut off the mole and the subcutaneous fat layer. Afterward, we’ll stitch the incision closed.
If a noncancerous mole lies right on the surface of the skin, we may decide that the best procedure is to freeze it off. We would use liquid nitrogen to perform this procedure.
Overall, most moles can be removed during a single office visit. However, if the cause for removal was due to medical concern, a follow-up appointment may be necessary.
Before Your Mole Removal Procedure
Before performing your mole removal procedure, we’ll discuss what your goals are during a scheduled consultation. We’ll also let you know what you should expect after your mole removal. Some procedures are more likely to leave scars than others and aftercare may vary. Together, we’ll determine the best treatment option for you.
On The Day of Your Procedure
Once you arrive at your appointment, we’ll begin prepping you for your procedure. The mole and surrounding areas will be cleaned using alcohol, Betadine, or another substance, before removal. This small but important step will decrease the likelihood of infection. We will then use an anesthetic like lidocaine to numb the area. Depending on the procedure and the size of the mole, a sterile drape may be required to treat the area.
What To Expect After Mole Removal: Risks and More
There are some risks associated with mole removal surgery, like most procedures. However, the risk is minimized when you work with a qualified dermatologist. While rare, some patients do develop an infection. If you follow the wound care instructions provided by your dermatologist, the risk of infection is greatly reduced. It all comes down to where the mole is and the process of removal.
The other risk you’ll want to consider is bleeding. While bleeding after the procedure is normal, excessive bleeding is not. If the bleeding lasts for more than 20 minutes and doesn’t stop with clean gauze and slight pressure, you should call your dermatologist.
Should I Expect Scarring After Mole Removal?
Scars are quite common after mole removal. In fact, scarring is considered a normal part of the healing process. A scar lets you know that your skin is closing the wound and healing. However, if you’re concerned about scarring, talk to your doctor. The board-certified skincare experts at BHSkin Dermatology will give you an idea of the type of scar you can expect after mole removal.
In most cases, you’ll find it difficult to see where the procedure took place on your body. Most people find that the scar is less noticeable than they anticipated. There are also several care methods and products you can use to minimize the appearance of a scar following mole removal surgery.
Watch for Abnormal Scarring After Mole Removal
There are some instances when scarring can be abnormal, as in the case of hypertrophic scars. This happens when your body produces a large amount of collagen while healing. Hypertrophic scars are often associated with serious burns and injuries but can occur following a mole removal procedure.
Another abnormal scar is known as a keloid scar, which appears when they expand and grow beyond the wounded area. Keloid scarring may require corticosteroid injections, laser treatments, or other procedures to reduce the size or growth.
What To Expect After Mole Removal: Recovery Time
Healing times can be different for everyone. For example, younger patients often heal faster than older ones and small incisions take less time to heal. In general, most mole removal scars will take two to three weeks to completely heal.
Proper aftercare is important for the wound to heal properly. Aftercare can also reduce scarrings and prevent infection. Follow the aftercare instructions from your doctor and dermatologist closely when it comes to caring and changing the dressing of the wound.
Can I Remove the Mole Myself?
Most people attempt to remove a mole by themselves, but we strongly suggest that you do not attempt this. Serious infection and scarring can happen as a result. If the bleeding is too bad, you could even end up in the emergency room. Attempting to do a mole removal on the face yourself would likely not give you the before and after look, you were hoping for.
Book a Consultation to Learn More
Don’t let anything scare you off from what is considered a safe and normal cosmetic procedure. If mole removal is something you’ve been wanting, then getting it done will give you the self-esteem boost you’ve been looking for. If you still have questions about the before and after effects of mole removal on your face or elsewhere, then book an appointment so we can help you out. Our priority at BHSkin Dermatology is to help our patients determine the right treatment option for their skin condition. Call at 310.205.3555 or 818.914.7546. You may also email us or click on the chatbox below. Look and feel your best, the decision is in your hands!