Other Associated Terms: Melanocytic Nevus, Banal Nevus, Seborrheic Keratosis, Melanoma, Electrocautery, Dysplastic Nevi, Laser Mole Removal, Excision Mole Removal, Natural Mole Removal, Punch Biopsy, Shave Excision.
A mole is a specific cluster of cells that are highly pigmented. They usually appear either at birth, or during the first 20 years of a person’s life. Most moles go unnoticed due to their small size and studies report that most of us have between 10-40 moles at various locations on our bodies. They usually manifest as dark spots on the legs, torso, arms and face. But, in truth, they can found on any area of the body and can come in a wide range of shades and colors.
Most moles are completely harmless but in certain rare instances, they can develop into a cancerous tumor (melanoma). This is a serious medical condition that could even eventually lead to death. This is why the monitoring of moles is extremely important and any changes in a mole need to be immediately reported to a doctor. A mole removal procedure is a very effective approach to treating malignant and potentially malignant moles.
The common skin mole is dark, evenly colored and usually raised above the surface of the skin. Uncommon moles (dysplastic nevi) are usually larger and have irregular coloration and borders. This uncommon type of mole can be considered pre-cancerous and is more likely to develop into a melanoma (skin cancer) than the common mole varieties.
The benefits of mole removal include improving one’s appearance by having a smoother, more even complexion. This can lead to an increase in self-esteem. Other benefits can include greater ease of shaving, once a protruding mole is removed. There can be a greater level of comfort, since moles may also rub against clothing, thus causing irritation. But, most importantly, a mole that is suspected of being pre-cancerous should be removed in order to avoid a future health risk.
The best candidates are those who understand the procedure and have realistic expectations of the results. Those who could benefit from the removal of a pre-cancerous mole or those who could benefit psychologically from mole removal are all good candidates.
Prior to the removal, the area will first be cleaned and anesthetic will be used to numb the location. The technique used to remove the mole is determined by the mole’s type. Stitches may be used in some cases, if needed.
The major types of mole removal are shave excision and punch biopsy. These procedures generally take about an hour to perform (depending on the size of the mole).
In shave excision, the surgeon uses a scalpel to shave off the mole. This is a relatively quick and highly effective method.
In a punch biopsy, the surgeon will utilize a cookie-cutter-like tool. After the removal, the surgeon will cauterize the area with an electrical instrument. The surgeon will then apply an antibiotic to prevent infection.
Note: A laser can also be used to remove a surface mole – thus eliminating the risk of scarring. However, a laser will not penetrate deeply enough to address deep seated moles.
The recovery period will vary, depending on the method used to remove the mole. Discomfort can be addressed with a prescription pain medication and scab development with usually heal in 1-2 weeks. Redness may take 2-4 weeks to disappear. Any scarring will begin to fade over a period of time.
Some things to keep in mind during the recovery period can include the following; keep the bandage clean and dry – no swimming or soaking of the surgery area. Use a cotton swab that’s been dipped in a hydrogen peroxide and water mixture to clean the wound 2-3 times per day. Keep the surgery area raised in order to reduce swelling, bleeding and level of pain.
Risks Associated with Mole Removal:
The risks associated with mole removal will depend on the method used. You should discuss these, at length, with your doctor. However, most risks will center around the possibility of scarring.
Unfortunately, those who want to remove moles for cosmetic improvements may not realize that scarring can replace each mole removed. Standard surgical risks also apply – such as the possibility of infection, nerve damage and an allergic reaction to anesthesia. Also, when shaving a mole, some cells from the mole may remain.
Mole removal procedure costs are dependent on the type of procedure used. Fees typically range from $125 to $150. These fees do not include anesthesia, operating room facility, hospital stay and other related expenses. That’s why, when viewing the costs for mole removal, you should make sure the total figure includes all the associated costs.
Things to Discuss with Your Doctor During Your Consultation:
When having a consultation with your doctor, there are several topics that you may wish to discuss, in detail;
- What mole removal procedure is best for your situation and why?
- Will the procedure completely remove the mole or will traces be left?
- What should you expect in terms of scarring?
- How will the procedure be performed and what are your anesthesia options?
- Where will the procedure be performed and is the facility accredited?
- What is the surgeon’s level of experience (how many procedures of this type have he or she performed)?
- What are the risks involved and what percentage of patients have experienced complications?
- What is the policy for repeating the procedure should it not meet agreed upon goals?
- What are the total costs for treatment (including all miscellaneous costs)?