What is a mole?

Many people refer to a mole as any dark spot or irregularity in the skin. Doctors use different terms. But skin marks such as these are not treated the same way moles are and are not discussed here:

  • Birthmarks
  • Abnormal blood vessels (hemangiomas)
  • Keratoses (benign or precancerous spots, which appear after about age 30 years)

What causes moles?

  • Some people are born with moles. Other moles appear over time.
  • Sun exposure seems to play a role in the development of moles and may even play a role in the development of atypical, or dysplastic, moles.
  • The role of heredity cannot be underemphasized. Many families have a type of mole known as dysplastic (atypical), which can be associated with a higher frequency of melanoma or skin cancer.

Benefits of Mole Removal
There are various benefits to this procedure including:

  • Removing protruding moles that get in the way of shaving.
  • Reducing skin irritation that can occur when certain moles rub against clothing or jewelry.
  • Achieving smoother, clearer skin.
  • Enhancing appearance and improving self-esteem.
  • Most importantly, if a mole is suspected to be pre-cancerous early on, it can often be completely removed before it causes a serious health risk.

How is Mole Removal Performed?
Before the mole is removed, the area is cleansed and then an anesthetic is applied to numb the area. The type of mole being removed determines what technique is used. Depending on the technique, stitches may or may not be used.

For excision of the mole, the surgeon uses a scalpel to cut the mole and a border of good skin surrounding it. The surgeon will determine the size of this border. Stitches are placed either deep within the skin, or on the upper surface, depending on the depth of the excision.

For the procedure that involves no stitches, 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. Topical antibiotic is 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.

Mole removal typically takes less than an hour to perform, depending on the amount of moles to be removed.

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