Moles are incredibly common and, in most cases, completely benign skin growths. However, it is also important to have your moles examined to ensure that they are truly benign. Regardless of the type of mole you may have, it is also possible to have moles safely removed by a medical professional, whether you choose this procedure to relieve discomfort or for cosmetic reasons. At Silver Falls Dermatology, we can help ensure that your skin is in its best condition and safely remove any moles that you may be unhappy with.
What are Moles?
Moles are a very common type of skin growth. A majority of adults have moles, and most are considered benign. You may also hear moles referred to as “nevi.”
In some cases, moles may change over time. This can indicate that the mole is precancerous or a sign of melanoma. For this reason, it is important to continually monitor any moles that you may have and see a dermatologist or other provider to determine whether the growth is benign.
Most adults have moles, and may count as many as 10-40 in total. It is more likely to have moles if you have fair skin or a family history of moles.
Some common types of moles include:
- Atypical moles, which are more likely to develop into melanoma
- Acquired moles, which develop at any point in life after birth and are also referred to as “common moles”
- Congenital moles, which are present at birth
- Spitz nevus, which are often pink or red, raised and round or dome-shaped
How Do Moles Form?
They are caused as a result of an unusually high number of melanocytes, or pigment-producing cells, are found in a small cluster of the skin. This is why moles are typically darker in color than the surrounding skin. It is believed that benign moles are caused by genetics, as the condition typically runs in families. For this reason, benign moles are not preventable.
In the case of melanoma, moles can form as a result of sun damage. In this case, abnormal growth of melanocytes results in the formation of skin cancer.
Mole Examination Appointments
Especially for patients with many moles, it is important to schedule routine appointments to have your skin and moles examined. During these appointments, your provider will examine each mole to check for any abnormalities or signs of skin cancer. In some cases, biopsies may need to be performed to ensure that a mole is not cancerous. This involves removing a small amount of tissue which can later be tested in a lab.
When Must Moles Be Removed?
A mole must be removed only if it is cancerous or precancerous. This can be determined after a biopsy and lab tests performed by your Silver Falls Dermatology provider. Watch for asymmetry, changes in the mole’s border, color or diameter or other signs that the mole may be evolving over time. If you notice these changes, schedule an appointment to have your mole examined and removed as soon as possible.
Benign moles do not require removal, but you may choose to have them removed regardless. This is particularly common when moles cause discomfort. For example, a mole in a sensitive area may frequently catch or pull on clothing and jewelry or become irritated due to friction. Patients also commonly choose mole removal for cosmetic reasons. This is most common when moles are found on highly visible areas such as the face, neck or chest.
The Mole Removal Procedure
Mole removal is relatively simple and can be completed in our office, often during your regular checkup appointment. Typically, the area will first be numbed using a topical product or local anesthesia. The mole can then be removed using a scalpel or similar surgical tool. In the case of removing atypical moles, your provider may also remove a small border of healthy skin to ensure that all of the damaged or cancerous cells are removed. Care will be taken to minimize scarring through the procedure. However, removal of large moles can result in some minor scarring. After your mole has been removed, sutures are generally not necessary. The area will be covered with gauze or a bandage, and you can then return to your normal routine.
After Mole Removal
Mole removal is a simple outpatient procedure with no required downtime. You may feel some soreness or sensitivity in the treatment area, which should subside relatively quickly. It is important to keep the area clean according to your provider’s directions. This is crucial to avoid infection or other complications as the area heals.