Moles may be removed for a variety of reasons; they may be too large or unsightly, possibly even affecting one’s self-esteem, or it may cause itchiness. With safe and efficient measures such as excision or excision with cauterization (using heat to burn the mole away), this particular form of surgery is painless and relatively quick. Laser excision has also been tried for role removal, but as the surgery doesn’t pierce deeply enough, it is not usually used by dermatologists.
What are moles?
Known as a dark spot, or pigmented lesions, moles are formed by a variety of reasons; you may have gotten it from birth (birthmarks), through irregular formation of blood vessels, or benign or precancerous spots (which could possibly lead to cancer), that may start to emerge after a person has aged (30 years and above).
What causes them to form?
- You may be born with it, or it could have appeared over time
- Prolonged sun exposure could have played a part in the formation of uncharacteristic or dysplastic (abnormal development) moles
- Dysplastic moles could be tied back to a previous familial history of melanoma (malignancy) or skin cancer
During the procedure
Removal with a simple incision (no stitches)
- A scalpel is used to shave off the mole underneath the skin
- To help cauterize and stop the bleeding that may arise, an antibiotic is applied to the wounded area
- It is then covered with a bandage
- Your dermatologist will advise you on how to treat and take care of your wound afterwards
Removal with incision (stitches)
- Removal of the mole is made through an incision with stitches
- The mole is mapped out before being cleaned
- Next, a scalpel is used to make an incision around the surrounding border. If the mole is potentially cancerous, a larger border will be removed to ensure that it is properly excised
- The depth of the mole will determine where the stitches will be placed; on the upper or lower surfaces of the skin
- Keep a sheet of antibiotic ointment and bandage on the wound
- The wound needs to be cleaned 1-2 times a day with either hydrogen peroxide or with water
- An antibiotic ointment and bandage needs to be applied afterwards
- Repeat the steps until the wound is completely healed
Note: Contrary to popular opinion, keeping the wound exposed to the air actually slows down healing.
Complications that may arise
- The mole could reappear
- A follow up operation may be required
Are there any risks involved?
Possible infection to an anaesthetic allergy and nerve damage could arise from mole removal surgeries. Do consult with your dermatologist on whether you may have an allergy to anaesthetic beforehand. Scars are a common problem as they may appear after the surgery, depending on the size and depth of the mole. Many seek to remove a particular mole for cosmetic reasons, without realizing that it could potentially leave a scar in the process.