Know Your Moles: Options for Mole Removal

Moles are pretty common.  Most of us have had these companions at some time or another—some there since birth and others coming along for the ride later in life.  They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors and can appear on any part of the body.  The sky’s the limit.  But, while some of us may see them as points of distinction, beauty is ultimately in the eye of the beholder. If you find them unsightly and want to say adios to your uninvited visitors, you may be a good candidate for mole removal.

To be clear, mole removal isn’t always a cosmetic choice.  Although most are completely harmless, in certain cases, they can pose a serious health risk and should be examined by a board-certified dermatologist. 

Before and above all, it’s important to know your mole. 

“Normal” moles are typically round and symmetrical with even color and smooth borders.  They can be either flat or elevated. Flat moles are usually dark, whereas raised moles appear in a range of colors.

Atypical moles—also called dysplastic nevi—are, simply put, not “normal” looking. They may be uneven in shape, dark or multi-colored and have irregular borders.  These atypical moles tend to present on the back, chest, buttocks or scalp.  As much as they may resemble melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—the good news is they aren’t cancerous.  However, it’s important to take note that atypical moles are an early warning sign for increased risk of developing melanoma either in the mole itself or elsewhere on the body.   

Monitoring atypical moles is essential to early detection and, in such cases, mole removal is more than a simple question of cosmetic preference.  That’s why you’re encouraged to have regular full-body skin evaluations by a board-certified dermatologist every 12 months. Plus, you should get in the habit of monitoring moles at home for signs of changes or new growths.

So, you may be in the market for mole removal?  A little more about what that process entails.

To start, don’t fret; having a mole removed is a relatively painless procedure that can be done quickly.  And there are options.  The right method for you will depend on your preference and on the number and types of moles to be removed.

1 – Cryotherapy, also called cryosurgery, is a simple, non-invasive outpatient procedure that uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy the mole.  The treatment area blisters and heals completely in a couple weeks.  But consult with a board-certified dermatologist first; cryotherapy is not always for all skin types, and can result in scarring if done incorrectly.

2 – Surgery is another simple outpatient treatment option, whereby your dermatologist either shaves or cuts out your mole using a skin numbing medication.  Some cases may require stitches or sutures.  While shaving is less invasive, usually doesn’t require stitches and leaves minimal scarring, excision has a higher success rate of preventing regrowth.

3 – Electrodessication is yet another outpatient treatment option that involves the application of electrical current to remove moles by drying them out.  The procedure may produce mild, temporary discomfort, yet it is safe, low-risk and produces minimal to no scarring.

Whether you’re looking to remove a mole for cosmetic or medical reasons, entrust your care to Eternal Dermatology, where you’ll always be treated by a highly-skilled, board-certified dermatologist.  No exceptions. 

Dr. Ife Rodney

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