Do you have random brown spots on your skin? These are moles and if they are by any chance cancerous, then you will need mole removal.
These are skin growths that appears because pigmented cells form clusters in the skin.
You may have them since your birth while some may grow during your childhood and adolescence.
Most of these are not dangerous. They appear on your body because of sun exposure. However, you do need to detect them regularly to see if they are cancer cells and indicate skin cancer or malignant melanoma.
This article discusses how you can remove moles medically. Keep reading to know more.
What Are Moles?
Moles are not necessarily brown, they can be of several colors including black, pink, red or tan.
Their appearance is of four kinds, smooth, raised, flat or wrinkled in an oval or round shape.
They may or may not contain hair and are either small dots or have about 6mm diameter.
You can find them anywhere on your body. They can grow on the scalp, on the face, in the fingers, feet etc.
This is because the melanocytes cells form clusters. These mole cells produce the pigment melanin hence when their clusters form they are pigmented.
However, you need to observe these moles to know when they could get cancerous.
You are at a higher risk if your moles are about 5cm in diameter and exist from birth. They can get cancerous during puberty though that hardly happens.
The average number of moles is usually around 10 to 40. They can keep growing on your body till the age of 50.
However, if you have more than 50 moles on your body then that could indicate a form of skin cancer. Having more than 20 on your arms alone is also risky.
There are irregular moles that are larger in size than normal ones. Atypical or dysplastic nevi pass on via genetics.
Therefore, if you have a family history of melanoma and if your moles may be bigger in size then there is a high risk of them being cancerous. Hence, the risk increases depending on the size and shape of the mole.
How To Look Out For Cancerous Moles?
The ABCDE’s help to identify moles that are advance enough or are benign.
Hence, this method will find out lesions that, if malignant, have already worsened.
Therefore, to know the signs of a mole that should be removed, you should consult your dermatologist regularly and self examine yourself.
Identify the lesions and spots that look dark and rough plus do not heal soon. You can also use the ABCDE method which goes:
- A indicates Asymmetry: The shape of the mole is asymmetrical and both the halves do not form symmetrical shapes.
- B indicates a border where the border of the mole is not regular, lighter or scalloped.
- C goes for color where you find out if the growth has undergone color changes like it has uneven colors or many of them.
- D goes for diameter to check if the growth has more than 6mm of diameter which is about 0.25 inch.
- E indicates evolving to see if there are changes in the growth. Look for shape, size height, and color changes such as going all black.
Also, look out for itchiness and bleeding as that could potentially indicate a cancerous growth.
Your moles do not need to be cancerous for you to remove them. If you want to remove them for aesthetic purposes, that’s fine too.
Your dermatologist will check through a confocal microscope whether the growth is malignant or not.
They will then proceed with the suitable mole removal treatment according to the type of mole. Flat growths can be removed using different types of lasers while raised ones will require surgery or lancing.
Mole Removal Preparation and Procedure
Firstly your board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon will clean the target area with alcohol.
Next, they will numb the area with an anesthetic for example lidocaine. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes to stop the flow of blood to the treatment area.
They may additionally cover the treatment site with a sterile drape.
Next, they will begin the procedure which can be of three kinds:
- Simple shaving without the need for stitches
- Excision with stitches
- Laser Treatments
Mole removal surgery involving stitching and excision is usually on a sensitive area.
The doctor proceeds by mapping the area and numbing it.
The surgeon cuts the mole using a scalpel and also cuts the border around it. The border size cut will be larger if the growth is cancerous or precancerous as it should completely cut off and lance it.
If the growth is deep enough, then the stitches will be deep too. They will dissolve on their own however if the stitches are on the upper surface then your doctor will remove them after some time as they don’t dissolve.
Your surgeon may also prefer to shave the growth with a scalpel without the use of stitches. They shave it a little below the skin to then burn it with an electrical instrument. However, they can also choose to place a solution on the treatment site to prevent any bleeding.
The surgeon will cover the shaved-off part with a bandage and will give you instructions on how to take care of it and reapply the bandage when necessary.
However, if your moles are flat and typical i.e. not cancerous then your doctor will use a cosmetic laser to lighten them to match the color of your skin.
Though, this decision is entirely up to you as you do not need to remove these moles for health purposes but more so for aesthetics. Hence, a flat mole removal laser is completely optional.
Mole Removal AfterCare
After the surgeon covers your wound with a bandage, you will have to redo it by applying petroleum jelly.
Regularly clean it with water and cover it with Vaseline and bandage. You will have to repeat the procedure until you are completely healed.
Though, be careful about using certain measures which can worsen your wound rather than heal it.
Do not leave your wound in the open rather cover it with a bandage and petroleum.
An open wound can be susceptible to infections hence, cover it properly for better healing.
Do not apply Vitamin E to your wound and scars as it could potentially slow down healing and worsen the scars.
You should know beforehand that removing the mole will leave a scar. You can take a few considerations to make sure the scar isn’t that prominent.
Wear A Sunscreen
When you are outside you should protect your wound from sun exposure.
Sunscreen for the face and body will help to protect you from sun damage on the wound. Sun exposure can cause your wound to discolor and become dark.
Hence, protect your treatment area by wearing sunscreen and avoiding the sun for a few days as much as possible till the wound heals.
The Treatment Site Should Remain Moist
Remember to keep the site of the incision moist as well as clean. You can do so by applying enough petroleum jelly underneath the bandage.
Wounds that are dry often do not fade away easily and heal slowly. Wait for the scar tissue to form and then replace the bandage and petroleum with a silicone gel.
Speaking of bandages, you can also use pressure therapy to use an elastic bandage or pressure stocking to apply pressure on the wound. This prevents scar formation but may take quite a while to be effective.
You can also use polyurethane medical pads as a dressing for about six weeks. They help to prevent the formation of a raised scar. It will also keep the incision site moist while also adding pressure.
Don’t Stretch But Massage
Do not pull or stretch the skin with the wound as it could increase the healing time and enlarge the scar.
In certain places, the skin stretches more than in others. For instance, the skin at the back of the hand stretches more than that on the shin.
Therefore, you need to be careful to avoid much stretching. Though, you can massage it after about 2 weeks of the procedure.
Do not pull the scab but lightly massage the scar. Rub using your two fingers both vertically and horizontally after the scab has fallen off.
This invigorates the treatment site and provides collagen to the skin to make the skin healthy again.
Lasers can help remove your moles but they can also help remove the scars resulting from the removal of your moles.
A pulsed dye laser can reduce the appearance of the scars. These laser treatments will not diminish the scar but at least make it smaller in size, hence, less apparent.
Corticosteroids and Cryosurgery
These injections help to reduce inflammation and the noticeability of raised and big scars such as the keloid scars.
However, it is risky as new scar tissue may appear again which might be discolored.
Similarly, cryosurgery also treats big scars such as keloids. In fact, in a single treatment, you can see a size reduction of the scar by 50 percent.
Cryosurgery destroys scar tissue by freezing it hence, the size reduces greatly. You can freeze it with liquid nitrogen. This can also help remove skin tags.
Though for most procedures you will require consistent effort to prevent scarring.
So Summing Up
You can get mole removal for atypical and typical moles, for health concerns and aesthetics.
However, it becomes necessary to remove them if the growth is cancerous.
Though, if you are unhappy with your moles and want to remove them for aesthetic purposes then that is possible too.
Hence, keep monitoring your growths to see if they are growing abnormally and do not delay its removal if you notice an abnormality.
Though, remember to not attempt any dangerous home remedies, always visit a dermatologist to have them removed.