Mole Removal: The Basics

Mole removal is a common outpatient procedure that can remove virtually any such blemishes on your body. If you're considering getting a blemish removed, you should familiarize yourself with the basics of the procedure.

Who's a Candidate?

Health reasons for mole removal generally include your medical professional's suspicion that a blemish could indicate possible skin cancer. Blemishes that are larger than an eraser on a pencil, are irregularly shaped, or are irregularly colored are generally the blemishes that require removal for health reasons.

You can also have a blemish removed for cosmetic reasons, i.e., simply because you don't like how it looks, although you should be aware that in place of a blemish, you will be left with a scar. However, you do not have to elect for blemish removal only for health reasons or cosmetic reasons. If the blemish is irritating, particularly when you put on or remove clothes or when shaving, you may choose to have it removed for comfort reasons.

Overview of Procedure

Mole removal surgeries generally take less than half an hour to complete and are done on an outpatient basis. The area of skin on which the blemish occurs will be numbed before the procedure using a local anesthetic injection, and then the area will be cleaned with alcohol to prevent infection. Your medical professional will then use a tool to remove the blemish in one sitting, and may follow up the removal with closing up your skin with sutures, which may or may not require you to return about one week later for removal.

Immediately after the procedure, you'll be free to return to normal activity, but be careful around the worked-on area and keep it clean to prevent infection. If you have traditional sutures, you may have to keep the area moist with antibiotics to prevent skin from growing over the sutures before they're removed. Be aware that all of the procedures will leave at least a light scar, but you may prefer this to the blemish itself. In somewhat rare cases, a mole may grow back that's darker than the original if mole cells were left in the area.

Types of Procedures

The available mole removal procedures differ by the tool used to remove the blemish. They include:

  • Laser excision: A laser evaporates the blemish and its base, involving no incisions and most often needing no sutures. This may be the best choice for minimal scarring.
  • Cauterization: A burning tool will burn away the blemish and its base, using heat to burn the skin and requiring no incisions or sutures. Leaves a bit of a light scar.
  • Scalpel excision: Your medical professional uses a scalpel to cut away all of the blemish and its base; it is likely to require sutures and will leave a light scar.
  • Shaving/Biopsy: Your medical professional uses a scalpel on protruding blemishes to remove part or all of protruding blemish, leaving the base behind. This is a minimally invasive option only sometimes requiring sutures that can improve the comfort of the blemish or may be necessary to determine if the blemish is cancerous.

Discuss mole removal with your cosmetic specialist, dermatologist or physician, who can refer you to a specialist if necessary. Opting to have a blemish professionally removed is faster, cleaner and less likely to result in infection than attempting to remove the blemish yourself at home.

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