Medically reviewed by Dr Justine Hextall, Consultant Dermatologist
About mole removal
Whether they're a beauty spot, barely noticed or the bane of your life you will have moles on your body. In fact an average an adult will have between 10-40 moles on their body, irrespective of sex and skin tone. While most skin moles are easily ignored some may be unsightly making you feel self-conscious or cause discomfort, particularly if rubbed by clothing. Others may be more serious presenting a symptom of potential health problems or other skin issues. The skin is the largest and most noticeable organ of the body, which is why it's essential that your skin is healthy and you are happy.
TREATMENTS FOR MOLE REMOVAL
Our dermatologist can remove moles within our clinic, and occasionally during your initial consultation. If several moles are being treated further visits will be required to ensure each mole can be safely removed. We have two methods of treating moles, shaving and excision.
Moles that protrude from the skin can simply be shaved away by the dermatologist under local anaesthetic. A scalpel is used to shave the mole allowing it to be flush with the surrounding skin. Then using an electrical instrument, the doctor cauterizes the area to stop any bleeding. A topical antibiotic is then applied to reduce risk of infection. Shaving removes the protruding surface of the mole, but it can leave mole cells beneath the skin and may grow back. Shaving is a relatively straightforward and painless that requires no stitches. A pink mark may be left, which will fade over time.
For excision of the mole, under a local anaesthetic, the dermatologist uses a scalpel to cut the mole and a border of good skin surrounding it. A small stitch in the skin is required and will either be placed deep within the skin, or on the upper surface, depending on the depth of the excision. A small scar will be left, which will fade over time.
Following removal we send all moles to a specialist lab for a biopsy to ensure no cancer is present, this is our standard practice to ensure we always provide the best and most responsible care for all our patients. Please be assured that cutting a cancerous mole will not make the cancer spread.
After a mole is removed your skin will heal normally. If the mole grows back, immediately make another appointment to see your dermatologist as this is a sign of melanoma, a type of skin cancer.
For more information on what a cancerous mole looks like - please consult our mole guide blog post.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What will happen at my mole removal consultation?
At your consultation you will our specialist dermatologist who is highly experienced at mole checks and mole removal. Your dermatologist will perform a thorough mole check, advising on whether further removal treatment is required. You may have specific concerns and questions about the different methods of treatment, which you can discuss at this time. The method of removal depends on the size and shape of the mole and will be decided in your consultation.
For the protection of our clients, removed, pigmented moles and some lesions will be sent for expert medical histology analysis. Additional histology charges will be added to removal costs at consultation. Please be aware, mole removal can and should only be performed by a dermatologist.
How often should I have my moles checked?
If you have a normal amount of moles (between 10-40), we would only recommend visiting your dermatologist if you have any concerns, have noticed any changed or have questions. We often advise that you ask a friend or partner to check your moles occasionally to see if they can identify changes over time that might require further investigation with a dermatologist.
However, if you are in a higher risk group for melanoma you should consider booking a mole check and mole map both every six to twelve months.
Can I get new moles as an adult?
Yes. While many moles arise in the first years of life, the total number of moles normally peaks in the second or third decade of life to an average of 35. Most people do not develop new regular moles after the age of 30. Any new moles that do appear after age 35 may require close observation, medical evaluation, and possible biopsy. A brand-new mole in an adult may be a sign of an evolving abnormal mole or early melanoma. It is important to have any new or changing mole evaluated by a dermatologist.
It should be noted that adults often develop non-mole growths. There are many mole simulators, including freckles, lentigines, liver spots, seborrheic keratoses, melanomas, neurofibromas, hemangiomas, skin tags, café au lait macules, and pigmented basal cell cancers. The optimal way to distinguish between these other growths is by consultation with a dermatologist.
Can I shave my own mole?
Never try to shave off a mole at home, always seek the help of a dermatologist.
There are several reasons why you should never self-treat moles:
- If the mole contains skin cancer, some of the cancer cells can stay in the skin — and even spread.
- You can disfigure your skin, causing a scar or other permanent reminder.
- You can cause an infection.
What health concerns are related to moles?
While the vast majority of moles are not dangerous, the most common health concern relating to moles is a form of skin cancer called melanoma.
Melanomas is the most common cancer in young women and is normally found on the lower leg, for men however it is more commonly found on the chest and back. It is most likely to be identified in moles that look different than other existing moles or those that first appear after age 25.
At The Harley Medical Group we highly recommend regularly checking your moles, either with a mirror or with assistance, paying special attention to areas of the skin that are often exposed to the sun. If you observe any changes in a mole's colour, height, size, or shape, you should have a dermatologist evaluate it. You should also see medical advice if your moles bleed, ooze, itch, or become tender or painful.
Caught early, melanoma can be cured, without treatment, melanoma can spread and be deadly. By performing self-exams of your skin you catch melanoma early.
The following ABCDEs are important characteristics to consider when examining moles. If a mole displays any of the signs listed below, have it checked immediately by a dermatologist. It could be cancerous.
- Asymmetry - one half of the mole does not match the other half.
- Border - the border or edges of the mole are ragged, blurred, or irregular.
- Colour - the color of the mole is not the same throughout or has shades of tan, brown, black, blue, white, or red.
- Diameter - the diameter of a mole is larger than the eraser of a pencil.
- Evolution - the mole is changing in size, shape, or color.