Moles are benign overgrowths of skin cells known as ‘Melanocytes’. Melanocytes are responsible for producing Melanin, a pigment that gives skin its natural color. Usually, melanocytic cells are spread across the skin’s outer layer called epidermis. A Mole appears when these cells grow in groups or clusters rather than growing individually. An average individual has about 10-40 moles throughout his life and most moles are harmless. However, you need to completely understand different types of moles before taking a decision on whether you want them removed or not.
In this article we’ll cover the following topics in a chronological order:
- How to identify a mole?
- How to know if a mole is cancerous?
- Common reasons people consider for mole removal
- Various mole removal methods/procedures
How to identify a mole?
When you see a change in color (generally brown, tan or black) of your skin concentrated at a small place usually round in shape, sometimes raised, is usually considered a mole. You can confirm it consulting your health specialist or doctor.
How to know if a mole is cancerous?
Most moles are benign or non-cancerous. According to American Cancer Society, the most important warning signal for a cancerous mole, is the occurrence of a new mole or change in shape, size of color of an existing mole. Following points will help you identify a cancerous mole.
- If a mole has grown after 25 years, it could be potential melanoma. Please consult your dermatologist about it.
- Dysplastic nevi with uneven shape and size is at a higher risk of cancer. In case you have more than 5 dysplastic nevis, please consult your doctor immediately. Read more about dysplastic nevi.
- If your mole shows any of ABCDE characteristics, it’s time you fix an appointment with your skin specialist. If suspicious, he/she would further conduct a biopsy by removing tissues from the mole.
- According to an article appeared in Encyclopedia, researchers have identified two genes known as CDKN2A and CDK4 that govern susceptibility to melanoma in humans
- Other symptoms including itchiness, pain, bleeding or crustiness are all signs of a mole turning to melanoma.
Common reasons people consider for mole removal
Apart from signs of melanoma or identifying a cancerous mole, other reasons people consider for a mole removal are the following –
- Cosmetic reasons
Moles especially appearing on face or neck have a psychological impact on people’s mind resulting in low self-esteem and confidence levels. Removing these moles boosts a person’s self-confidence and helps in rebuilding self-image.
Raised moles may create a lot of discomfort when rubbed against the shirt and cause a lot of irritation and pain while shaving or applying cream. People tend to overcome this discomfort by getting it removed.
Mole removal methods/procedures
Based on the type of mole, your dermatologist will take a call on which method to be used for an effective mole removal. Proper arrangements will be done for a safe mole removal. He/she may decide which mole removal method to adopt based on the size, structure and overall appearance of the mole. In case of a suspected cancerous mole, a small tissue from the mole is removed and sent to the lab for biopsy to determine whether a mole is cancerous or not.
In no particular order, following methods are widely used for mole removal –
- Mole removal by shaving
Steps used in this method –
Step 1 – Doctor numbs the area using a local anaesthesia so that a you don’t feel any pain during the procedure.
Step 2 – Mole is shaved off using a scalpel.
Step 3 – Mole area is then cauterized to stop bleeding. Aluminum chloride hexahydrate could also be applied to prevent any bleeding.
Electrosurgical feathering may be used to shape the edges, minimize scarring and remove cells from further growing. Stitches are usually not required with this method.
Step 4 – Some antibiotic ointment is then applied to the surgical area and closed with a sterile bandage.
Step 5 – The dermatologist will then instruct you on how to take care of the affected area and things to follow to minimize the chances of scar.
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This type of removal method is generally applied on surface level moles
Scar – Minimal scarring is expected using this method. Follow the instructions given by your dermatologist. You may also look at a detailed article we did on prevent scars after mole removal.
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