How to Remove Moles

Moles are common skin growths that result from an accumulation of pigment-producing cells. While most moles are harmless, some may change in appearance or become cancerous. 

If this occurs, or if you’re concerned about the appearance of a mole, it’s essential to consult a dermatologist.

Upon examination, your dermatologist will determine the best method for mole removal. Popular management options include surgical excision or freezing the mole. It’s crucial not to attempt home remedies, as these are generally ineffective and may cause harm to your skin.

What are Moles?

Moles are small, pigmented growths on your skin, usually brown or black in color. They are formed by clusters of pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. 

Moles are typically harmless and non-cancerous (benign), but some can develop into cancerous (malignant) growths.

Flat Moles

Flat moles, or junctional melanocytic nevi, appear on your skin as small, darkened patches. With a smooth and even texture, they often resemble freckles and can range in color from pink to dark brown.

They maintain their flat shape by sitting at the intersection of your dermis and epidermis, an area known as the basal cell layer.

Raised Moles

Raised moles, commonly known as compound or dermal moles, are a type of skin condition characterized by their elevated appearance on your skin. They’re often flesh-toned or brown and can range in size from small to large.

Their position within the dermis, the middle layer of your skin, enables them to project outward.

Benign Moles

Benign moles are non-cancerous skin growths. They are usually round or oval, have a smooth texture, and have consistent color – often brown, tan, or pink.

As they are formed from melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells in your skin, they may darken due to sun exposure or hormonal changes.

Cancerous Moles

When moles become malignant or cancerous, they can pose a significant risk to your health. Known as melanoma, this is the most aggressive kind of skin cancer.

Noticeable changes to a pre-existing mole could indicate the transformation into a cancerous mole.

Is the Mole Cancerous?

Determining if a mole is cancerous is crucial for your health. Dermatologists use the “ABCDE rule” to identify suspicious moles. 

Stay vigilant and look for these signs in your moles:

A- Asymmetry

The mole is asymmetrical, meaning one half looks different from the other.

In a benign mole, both halves should be relatively symmetrical. If there is a noticeable asymmetry, it could be a sign of an abnormality, such as melanoma, a type of skin cancer. 

B- Border

A benign mole typically has a well-defined, smooth border. On the other hand, a cancerous mole may exhibit irregular or blurred edges. 

Changes in the border, such as scalloped or notched edges, can be indicative of potential malignancy. 

C- Color

Examining the color of a mole is a key aspect of assessing its potential risk. Generally, benign moles have a uniform color, often in shades of brown. Conversely, cancerous moles may display uneven coloring, with variations such as red, white, blue, or black. 

Any significant changes in the color of a mole should be closely monitored and promptly discussed with a healthcare professional to rule out potential malignancy and ensure timely intervention if needed.

D- Diameter

Monitoring the diameter of moles is crucial for evaluating their potential malignancy. Generally, benign moles are smaller in size, typically less than 6 millimeters in diameter. In contrast, cancerous moles may exhibit growth and surpass this threshold. 

Any significant increase in diameter or changes in size should be promptly examined by a healthcare professional to assess the risk and determine appropriate measures for intervention if necessary. 

E- Evolving

The “E” in the ABCDE rule stands for evolving, emphasizing the importance of monitoring any changes in a mole over time. If a mole undergoes alterations in size, shape, color, or texture, it may indicate potential malignancy. 

Regular self-examinations and professional dermatological assessments are crucial to detecting evolving moles early and addressing any concerns promptly for optimal skin health.

Ways to Remove a Mole

Before you proceed with any mole removal, consult your dermatologist for proper diagnosis and assessment. Here are some common methods used for mole removal:

Mole Removal Creams

These are topical solutions that you can apply directly to the mole. With continuous application, the cream works to lighten the pigmentation and gradually fade away the mole.

This non-invasive and cost-effective method is ideal for benign moles. However, results may vary, and consultation with a dermatologist is recommended prior to use.

Freezing the Mole

Cryosurgery, also known as cryotherapy, is a mole removal method that involves the use of extremely cold liquid nitrogen. It freezes the mole and destroys the growth at a cellular level.

This procedure is quick, easy, and often used for benign, small, and superficial moles. However, it may cause a lightened skin color in the treated area.

Controlled Burns

In this method, your mole will be removed using a special tool that burns it away. The tool passes an electrical current that heats and disintegrates the mole tissue, leaving behind a scab that will eventually fall off.

Electrocautery is painless due to local anesthesia and is typically used for small, non-cancerous moles.

Laser Treatment

This procedure uses intense light radiation to break the mole cells, which will later be naturally eliminated by your body. Laser treatment is highly effective for flat, small, and dark moles that are not too deep in the skin.

Despite being a non-invasive method, multiple sessions can be necessary to get rid of the mole completely.

Radio wave Procedure

Radiofrequency ablation is an innovative and minimally invasive procedure used for mole removal. It harnesses radio wave energy delivered through a thin wire probe affixed to a generator.

The probe is applied to the mole, and as the wire heats up, it delicately cuts and vaporizes the unwanted tissue, causing minimal damage to the surrounding skin due to its ability to target the mole’s depth precisely.

Although a relatively new technique, radiofrequency ablation holds promise as a method to remove moles quickly, with less pain and reduced scar formation.

Shave Removal

Shave removal is a non-invasive technique for removing moles. You would undergo local anesthesia, and a dermatologist would then “shave” or scrape off the mole using a sharp medical blade.

This method is beneficial for moles that are raised, and as it doesn’t penetrate deep into the skin, it leaves minimal scarring.

Manual Surgery

A more invasive method, surgical excision, is used to get rid of moles that are deep within the skin. After applying local anesthesia, a surgeon uses a scalpel to cut the mole and a margin of healthy skin around it. The wound is then closed with stitches.

This procedure is typically used for larger or suspicious moles and guarantees a high success rate of complete removal.

Mole Removal Aftercare

After your mole removal procedure, you’ll need to follow specific aftercare instructions to ensure proper healing and avoid possible complications.

Keep the Wound Clean

Keep the wound clean and dry by gently washing it with soap and water. Pat dry and apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to prevent infection.

Place a sterile bandage over the wound to protect it.

Change Your Bandage

Regularly change your bandage, especially if it becomes wet or dirty.

This is to ensure that your wound doesn’t get infected due to accumulated debris or bacteria.

Avoid Direct Sunlight

Avoid exposing your wound to direct sunlight, as this may increase scarring or induce irritation.

When possible, wear lightweight clothing that covers the treated area, and use sunscreen if you cannot avoid sun exposure.

Don’t Scratch Your Wound

In some cases, you might experience scarring. Keloid scars are raised, thickened areas of skin that develop at the site of an injury or incision and extend beyond its borders.

Permanent scarring is possible if you pick or scratch your wound or the scab as it forms.

Don’t Remove the Stitches Yourself

If stitches were used during the procedure, your doctor will let you know when they should be removed.

Please do not attempt to remove them yourself, as this may lead to complications.

Take Pain Medications

You may experience mild discomfort or inflammation in the treated area.

To alleviate the pain, try using over-the-counter pain relievers and applying a cold compress.

Use Ointments If Needed

Sometimes, the mole removal procedure involves cauterization to minimize bleeding. In this case, you may experience burns at the treatment site.

Apply over-the-counter burn ointments and keep the area covered to minimize scarring.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of moles?

There are several types of moles, including flat moles, raised moles, benign moles, and cancerous moles. Flat moles are small, darkened patches on your skin, often resembling freckles.

Raised moles appear elevated on your skin and are often flesh-toned or brown. Benign moles are non-cancerous skin growths, and cancerous moles, or melanomas, can pose a significant health risk.

How can you tell if a mole is cancerous?

The “ABCDE rule” is used by dermatologists to identify suspicious moles. This rule stands for Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter, and Evolving.

If your mole exhibits any of these traits, it’s critical to consult a healthcare professional for further examination.

What are common methods for mole removal?

Shave removal, excision, liquid nitrogen, electrocautery, mole removal creams, laser treatment, radiofrequency ablation, and surgical excision are a few of the standard methods for mole removal.

Each method has its own pros and cons, and the best option depends on the individual characteristics of the mole and the person’s overall health.

What is radiofrequency ablation for mole removal?

Radiofrequency ablation is a new and minimally invasive procedure for mole removal. It uses radio wave energy to heat and cut the mole tissue, causing minimal damage to the surrounding skin.

Despite being a new method, it’s proving to be effective at mole removal with less pain and reduced scarring.

Are mole removal creams effective?

Mole removal creams are topical solutions that lighten the pigmentation and gradually fade away the mole.

While they are non-invasive and cost-effective, results may vary, and it’s recommended to consult a dermatologist before use. They are generally used for benign moles.

Can all moles be removed with laser treatment?

Laser treatment is especially effective for small, flat, and dark moles that are not too deep in the skin. It uses intense light radiation to break up the mole cells, which are then naturally eliminated by the body.

However, it may require multiple sessions to remove the mole completely.