Most moles and blemishes are "benign", or non-cancerous. However, because some moles can transform into a cancer, it's always a good idea to have a physician evaluate a suspicious lesion. The overwhelming majority of skin cancers are curable, and the key to success is to receive early treatment. Unfortunately, many patients have a concern about a mole, and yet wait months before seeking medical attention. Are there indications which suggest that a mole may be malignant? Yes, there are. These characteristics include a sudden change in size, shape or color. Other concerning features include bleeding, itching, swelling or pain. Even when moles are not cancerous, some individuals want them removed. Sometimes, the mole is unattractive, in other instances, the mole becomes irritated by clothing. The coarse hair (which sometimes grows in a mole) can only be removed by removing the entire mole.
Procedures for removal of skin lesions require only a few minutes and can be performed during an office visit. Typically, skin lesions and moles will not recur after removal. The most common methods for removal are shave biopsy and excision with closure.
To view before and after images, please click here.
The shave biopsy is a simple procedure used to treat protruding growths. First, the skin is numbed with a local anesthetic. Then, a scalpel is employed to take off the portion of the mole that lies above the skin surface. Usually, a flat white mark remains after healing. Sometimes the color is the same as the original mole, but the new surface is level with the surrounding skin. Therefore, it won't be irritated by clothing or undergarments. Also, it's much easier to conceal with make-up.
Mole Removal Excision
Excision biopsy is necessary when the mole is flat, or when a cancer is suspected (e.g., melanoma). The full depth of the mole is removed and the wound is sutured. The specimen is then sent to a lab for pathological examination. The scar that results from excision may be only a thin line. If there is a high suspicion of cancer, then a margin of clean tissue is removed around the lesion. This ensures that all parts of the lesion have been removed. With a mole on the face, Dr. Wall may close the site using extremely fine sutures on the surface, and absorbable sutures beneath the skin. Stitches are usually removed after 4 or 5 days. This prevents the development of unsightly scars ("railroad tracks"), which can occur of stitches are left in for too long.