There are several instances in which it becomes necessary or desirable to remove moles. Moles can be cosmetically unsightly, and also become cancerous. Moles are removed in two ways: excision, and excision with cauterization. Regardless of the reason for mole removal, the process will be the same. Moles that appear to be cancerous will be sent to a lab for testing after removal.
Cosmetic issues are commonly sighted as reasons to remove moles. Some patients feel embarrassed by moles, whether they are large or small. Moles sometimes grow long, course, dark hairs, which can also cause embarrassment. Patients considering cosmetic mole removal should take into consideration the possibility of scarring. Large moles may leave large scars, which may be more or less unsightly than the mole being removed.
Discomfort is another possible reason to remove moles. While not painful themselves, large moles may be irritated by clothing. Even if irritation is the suspected cause, any pain or bleeding in moles should be reported to a health care provider. The mole will be evaluated for signs of skin cancer, and sent to a lab for confirmation once removed.
The majority of moles are completely harmless, but some can become cancerous. If a mole is asymmetric, irregular, very large, or if it is painful or bleeds, it may be cancerous or precancerous. All new or suspicious moles should be reported to a health care provider. The provider will determine if removal is necessary, or if regular observation is best.
General surgeons are trained to remove moles, but many patients prefer it to be done by a dermatologist. Whichever provider you choose, make sure he or she is experienced in mole removal. Complications of mole removal surgery include reaction to the anesthetic, nerve damage, and scarring. Other potential side effects depend on the location of the mole.
To remove moles, the surgeon or dermatologist will first cleanse the area. A local anesthetic, typically lidocaine, will be used to numb the immediate area. The provider performing the removal will cut the mole off either at or under the skin. Stitches might be needed, but are not always necessary, especially with cauterization. The removed tissue will be sent to a lab for analysis if there are suspicions of cancer.
Infection may occur in the surgical wound. If there are symptoms of discharge, severe pain, or fever, a health care provider should be consulted. Applying an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment or cream and keeping the wound covered reduce the chances of infection.