Most moles are nothing to worry about. But occasionally a physician will recommend that a mole be removed because it’s at risk of developing into cancer. In still other cases, a patient may wish to have a mole removed because of cosmetic reasons or because it’s located in a spot where it’s in the way. If mole removal is in your future, there are several ways in which it may be taken off. Laser removal, which is offered by Franklin Skin and Laser in Franklin, TN, is a great option for patients seeking a less invasive treatment. Laser removal also minimizes the chance of infection and speeds healing.
What Is Laser Mole Removal?
During laser removal, bursts of light radiation will be directed toward the mole, breaking down the skin cells it is comprised of. The precision of a laser treatment means that only the mole is removed, and surrounding tissue is left intact and healthy. The treatment time is minimal, with the removal of each mole taking only a few minutes. There is no downtime associated with this treatment, so patients are able to immediately return to their normal schedules. Most patients only need one treatment to remove the mole.
What Will the Mole Site Look Like After Treatment?
When you leave our office after your appointment, there will be a small red spot where the mole once was. The treatment site will likely be covered with a small, temporary dressing. In the coming days, a scab will form on the site. When that scab drops off about a week later, the site where the mole was will be smooth and pale pink. The spot will gradually lighten and will continue to diminish in appearance over the coming months. Patients are usually asked to refrain from wearing makeup on the treatment site until after the scab has fallen off.
What Type of Moles Are Most Suitable for Laser Treatment?
Small moles that are non-cancerous are ideal candidates for laser treatments. Lasers treatment should only be used on moles for which no biopsy is needed because laser removal doesn’t produce a sample that can be sent away to a lab for testing. Laser removal is a good option for moles that are located in hard-to-reach areas, such as the ears or face. It can also be an effective way of removing multiple moles in one treatment session.
How Can I Tell if Laser Removal Is Best for Me?
Opting for laser removal isn’t a decision you can, or should, make on your own. We can help you review your medical history and each individual mole and then work with you to determine whether or not laser removal is the best option.
Is the Laser Safe?
The medical-grade lasers used in this treatment are small, powerful, and completely safe. Patients undergoing this treatment are provided with goggles to protect their eyes while the laser is in use.
What Advantages Does Laser Removal Have Over Other Treatment Options?
The advantage of laser removal is that it is a noninvasive option. Because this removal method does not involve burning or cutting the skin, infection is less of a risk and the rate at which the patient heals is faster.
Who Will Oversee My Treatment?
Your treatment will be overseen by Dr. Steven Bengelsdorf, a board-certified surgeon with more than 20 years of experience. Dr. Bengelsdorf is a Fellow of both the American College of Surgeons and the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery. Dr. Bengelsdorf is experienced in laser and other removal techniques, and he can diagnose and remove your mole without scarring.
What Other Ways Can I Have a Mole Removed?
In addition to laser treatments, patients have several mole removal options to choose from. Mole removal of any type is an outpatient treatment conducted at our office.
Excision, in which the mole is cut out of the skin, is the most traditional removal method. Your physician will numb the area and then use a scalpel or surgical scissors to remove the mole as well as a small amount of the surrounding skin. Some moles reach deep into the skin, and completely removing them may require the wound to be closed with a few stitches. If your physician has concerns about the mole, they can have the removed specimen sent to a lab for testing.
Shaving down the mole is an option for some patients. With this approach, the physician will again start by numbing the site. A scalpel will then be used to shave down the mole until a pink mark remains. Shaving is a less aggressive treatment that leaves the skin intact.
Thinner, non-cancerous moles that have not penetrated deep into the skin may be frozen off with liquid nitrogen. This relatively quick and simple treatment leaves a blister on the skin that will eventually fade away.
Why Do People Have Moles Removed?
Moles are generally removed for either cosmetic or medical reasons. When patients seek mole removal for cosmetic reasons, it’s usually because they are embarrassed by the prominence of the mole, particularly if it’s on their face. In other cases, a mole may simply be getting their way. Moles that are frequently nicked while shaving or moles around the neckline that tend to get caught or pinched in jewelry or clothing may be removed for this reason. If a mole is removed for medical reasons, it’s usually because a physician is concerned it may develop into malignant melanoma: a life-threatening type of skin cancer.
Can I Remove My Mole Myself?
Although you’ve probably heard about various at-home remedies, mole removal is best left to the professionals. A physician can remove a mole safely and properly, minimizing the risk of infection, scarring, or other side effects. A physician can also determine whether a mole is cancerous or pre-cancerous and whether additional treatment is necessary. Besides, many of the topical creams and pastes that claim to remove moles cause allergic reactions.
Do Moles Ever Come Back After Being Removed?
Protecting yourself when you’re in the sun by wearing long-sleeved clothing, hats, and sunscreen can help prevent removed moles from returning and new ones from forming. However, there is still a small chance that a mole that’s been removed will reform. Having regular screenings with your physician is the best way of keeping tabs on your skin health and quickly addressing any returning moles.
Should I Adjust My Skin Care Routine After a Mole Is Removed?
The core elements of a good skincare routine–cleansing, moisturizing, and wearing sunscreen–remain the same after you’ve had a mole removed, but you may want to give the site where the mole was a little extra care. Wash the site a little more carefully and resist the temptation to pick at the area. Be sure to use sunscreen on the site.
How Can I Tell if a Mole Needs Medical Attention?
It’s important to pay attention to your skin, taking note of any new moles and changes in the moles you’ve always had. If you have a history of skin cancer or a large number of moles, your regular doctor may suggest that you regularly see a dermatologist to have your skin screened. If you have moles with any of the following characteristics, you should consult with us:
- Asymmetry, in which one half of the mole doesn’t match the other half
- An irregular or poorly defined border
- An overall diameter that is larger than a pencil eraser
- A change in the mole’s shape, size, or color
- Varied color within the mole
- Bleeding or itching
- New moles that develop after the age of 20
When It Comes to Moles, What Is Considered Normal?
We’ve talked about the process of removing moles and when to seek medical attention for a suspicious mole. But it’s also important to remember that almost everyone has moles, and the vast majority of them pose no inconvenience and no threat. Most moles appear before the age of 20, and it’s not uncommon for an adult to have anywhere from 10 to 40 moles on his or her body.
How Many Different Types of Moles Are There?
Moles, which are referred to in medical terms as nevi, are concentrations of skin cells that produce pigment in the skin. They appear as brown or tan blemishes on the surface of the skin and are usually circular and slightly raised. Many of us are born with moles, and others appear on our skin as a result of genetics or sun exposure. Moles can come and go with hormonal changes, and fair-skinned patients tend to have more moles than those with darker complexions. There are three different types of moles: congenital, common, and atypical.
Congenital moles are moles that you are born with. This type of mole, which is often round or oval in shape and slightly raised, is sometimes referred to as a birthmark. Congenital moles come in all sizes, sometimes have varying color, and occasionally have hair growing out of them. They may grow or shrink over time, but generally, this type of mole poses no medical risk, although they can increase a patient’s risk of developing melanoma.
Common moles, which are also sometimes referred to as acquired moles, are moles that develop on the skin after birth. These moles are small and oval or round. They may be either smooth or rough to the touch, usually are just one color, and occasionally have hair coming out of them. Common moles also pose no medical risk on their own, although having 50 or more may increase a patient’s risk of melanoma.
Atypical moles, which are also called dysplastic nevus, are usually characterized by their odd shape and their size, which is larger than a pencil eraser. They sometimes have more than one color and often have a pebbly texture. Atypical moles are often found on a patient’s trunk and only rarely appear on the face. Atypical moles are tricky because they often have characteristics that are similar to melanoma, and they can potentially turn cancerous themselves. If you have atypical moles, regular skin screenings with a medical profession are especially important.
Get Your Moles Removed
If you are worried about a mole, or if you’re ready to get rid of a mole that’s been annoying you for some time, our practice can help. We can evaluate the mole, diagnose any related medical conditions, and remove it. You’ll be left with smooth, unblemished skin you can be proud of. Ready to take the first step? Call Franklin Skin and Laser in Franklin, TN today and ask about mole removal.