Updated: Jul 28
Moles are so common that nearly every adult has a few. You're more likely to have moles if you have lighter skin. Moles are a normal and common occurrence, but if you have a mole that is causing irritation, you may want to have it removed.
Sometimes moles are cancerous, arising from the melanin-producing cells of the skin. A change to a mole is often the first sign of melanoma, but when caught early, melanoma can be cured.
Esteemed medical and cosmetic dermatologist Paul Wallace, MD, possesses more than 20 years of experience helping people keep their skin health. If you have a mole that you need removed, it's wise to see a skilled dermatologist. In trained hands, mole removal is a routine outpatient procedure. Keep reading to find out what to expect.
It's important to examine your moles often and keep an eye out for any unusual changes. The ABCDE method is a simple method to remember when doing self-examinations of your moles.
Asymmetrical. Check your mole for symmetry. This means that each half should look the same. Asymmetrical moles can be a sign of melanoma.
Border. Look out for moles with irregular borders. Typical moles have smooth, well defined borders. Have moles with uneven, ragged, or irregular borders checked.
Color. Take a look at your moles and check the color. Moles generally have one solid color throughout. The color is usually flesh toned and may be slightly darker than your skin tone. Abnormal moles may have a variety of different colors inside one mole. They may appear red, blue, or black. In some cases, abnormally colored moles look like a rainbow.
Diameter. Most moles are small — about the size of a pencil eraser or smaller. It’s a good idea to have a dermatologist take a closer look at moles larger than ¼ inch.
Evolution. Most moles remain the same or have slight changes throughout your life. Pay attention to any moles that begin to change suddenly or quickly. For example, a previously stable mole that suddenly begins to change in shape or size should raise suspicion. It's also a good idea to have new moles that appear after the age of 40 checked.
Mole removal is a straightforward process. Dr. Wallace injects a numbing solution near the mole to prepare for removal. Various different techniques are used to remove moles. Dr. Wallace will determine the most appropriate approach.
Shave biopsy: In this approach, your provider uses a medical razor blade to shave the mole and surrounding skin.
Punch biopsy: During a punch biopsy, your provider uses a punch tool to punch out the mole.
Scalpel removal: As the name suggests, this approach involves using a scalpel to remove the mole and surrounding skin.
Healing time depends on the size and location of the mole and can be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
After mole removal
After your mole is removed, your provider will send a sample to the lab to take a closer look. Results are typically available in 1-2 weeks. If the cells of the mole appear normal, there's no further treatment necessary. However, if the cells appear abnormal, or cancerous, your provider will discuss the next steps.
Mole removal is a simple, low-risk procedure that can bring you peace of mind and enhance your confidence. Patients seeking mole removal can get started by calling 323-285-9805 to schedule a visit with Dr. Wallace.