Moles, those small, pigmented spots on your skin, are usually harmless. Many people proudly sport their moles as beauty marks. However, there are situations when having a mole removed becomes necessary.
Courtney Bagayoko, MD, FAAD, MPH, Roy E. Howard, PA-C, and our dedicated team at Anchorage Dermatology & Cosmetics in Anchorage, Alaska, are at your service to evaluate and, if necessary, provide a range of tailored mole removal solutions to meet your specific requirements.
We also discuss when it's advisable to consider mole removal, what the procedure involves, and what to expect during and after the removal.
Before delving into when mole removal is advisable, it's essential to grasp what moles entail. Moles come in two primary categories: normal moles, which are typically round or oval, exhibit uniform coloration and are no larger than a pencil eraser, and atypical moles, also known as dysplastic nevi, which display irregular shapes, varied coloration, and often have uneven borders.
It's worth noting that atypical moles carry a slightly elevated risk of evolving into skin cancer.
If you notice any of the following characteristics in a mole, it's time to consult with our team:
Any sudden color change, especially if it darkens or becomes mottled, can cause concern.
You should get a mole examined if it starts growing or becomes larger than a pencil eraser (6mm in diameter).
Moles with irregular, jagged, or blurred borders can indicate a problem.
You should get a mole checked if it becomes painful, itchy, or starts bleeding without an apparent cause.
A family history of skin cancer, especially melanoma, heightens your risk. Regular skin checkups and potential mole removal are advisable if you have close relatives with a history of melanoma or other skin cancers.
Certain individuals opt for mole removal solely for cosmetic purposes, regardless of medical necessity. When a mole resides in a location causing self-consciousness or discomfort, its removal can significantly boost confidence.
So, you've decided to have a mole removed. What can you expect from the procedure?
We start by evaluating the mole in question and may use a dermatoscope, a special magnifying instrument, to get a closer look. If there are any suspicious characteristics, we may recommend a biopsy.
A biopsy involves removing a small sample or an entire mole, depending on the situation. The sample is sent to a lab for analysis to determine if there are any cancerous cells.
There are different methods for removing moles, and we choose the most appropriate one based on factors such as size, location, and whether cancer is suspected. Common removal techniques include:
After the mole gets removed, you are provided with care instructions to promote proper healing:
Gently clean the wound with water and mild soap, then apply an antibiotic ointment as recommended.
Protect the healing area from the sun to prevent scarring and hyperpigmentation. Cover the area with clothing or use sunscreen.
Be aware of redness, swelling, discharge, or other signs of infection. Contact us if you suspect an infection.
Attend any follow-up appointments as scheduled to ensure proper healing and to discuss the biopsy results, if applicable.
In conclusion, while most moles are harmless, it's crucial to monitor them for any changes and seek professional advice if you have concerns. Regular skin checks can help you make informed decisions about mole removal. Whether for medical reasons or personal preferences, mole removal is a safe procedure that promotes overall skin health and confidence.
If you’re ready to learn more, contact Anchorage Dermatology & Cosmetics at 907-865-8455 or use our online booking tool to request an appointment today.