Categories: Blog

When Should You Get a Mole Removed?

Some people view moles as beauty marks, while others feel embarrassed about these dark growths on the skin. In general, most moles, birthmarks, and beauty marks are benign skin irregularities that don’t require any treatment. However, if you feel self-conscious about unwanted growths on the skin, you may want to explore mole removal treatment options at Prizant Dermatology in Pittsburgh, PA.

When Should You Get a Mole Removed?

The vast majority of moles don’t require removal. However, if you are concerned about the appearance of a mole or if a mole is damaging your self-confidence, this can be a reason to schedule a consultation with a dermatologist. A dermatologist will examine your mole to ensure it does not have any concerning characteristics. Some of the factors that will be assessed by your dermatologist include:

Unusual Symmetry

Moles should be symmetrical. If a mole is asymmetrical, this can be a cause for concern. A lack of symmetry generally indicates that there is unusual cellular activity. If you notice a mole is not symmetrical, it’s best to get it checked by a skin expert.

Unusual Border

Healthy moles should also have regular borders. Unusual borders happen when the outer edges of the mole are uneven, such as having a squiggly line or shape. Extremely unusual borders may be an indication of unusual cell growth.

Unusual Color

Moles typically have an even color, so if you have a mole on your skin that has multiple colors, this could be a cause for concern. A mole that has a darker spot or a red spot may be an indication of a precancerous lesion. Furthermore, the moles on your skin should generally be the same color, so if you have a mole that is unlike the color of other moles, this could also be a cause for concern.

Unusual Diameter

Most moles are smaller than six millimeters, which is roughly the size of a pencil eraser. If your mole is larger than six millimeters, it’s best to get it looked at by a dermatologist. Some birthmarks and moles can be larger without presenting any health risks, but large moles are typically unusual and should be biopsied.

Is Your Mole Evolving?

Even if your mole is symmetrical, has even borders, an even color, and is an appropriate diameter, you still may want to get your mole looked at if you notice that the mole is evolving. If a mole shows up on your skin in an area where a mole has never been, this is likely an indication that your skin is exhibiting abnormal growth. Evolving moles that change in size, shape, and color may be a sign of a precancerous lesion.

Types of Unwanted Growths

Aside from moles, there are many other types of unwanted growths or blemishes that can appear on the skin. Some hyperpigmentation caused by sun damage or post-acne marks is expected, while freckles are also a very common growth on the skin. However, you will still want to have a dermatologist examine unwanted growths on the skin, just to be on the safe side. The most common types of unwanted growth include brown spots, skin tags, and lesions.

Brown Spots

Brown spots are typically associated with aging but are most commonly caused by repeated unprotected sun exposure throughout the lifetime. If you have spent a lot of time outdoors or using tanning beds, you are more likely to develop aging or brown spots as you get older. Brown spots develop when there is a high concentration of melanin in one area of the skin.

Although most brown spots are not a cause for concern, it’s best to have a dermatologist assess these brown spots to be sure there are no signs of abnormal cellular activity. Furthermore, when a skin expert looks at brown spots or sun damage, they can make the best recommendation for restoring the even pigment of your skin.

Skin Tags

Skin tags are typically benign growths on the skin that appear as a result of aging or can sometimes be caused by friction on the skin. Skin tags are hypertrophic, which means that they rise from the surface of the skin. Skin tags may catch on jewelry or clothing, and can sometimes bleed. If you find skin tags embarrassing or uncomfortable, a dermatologist can recommend a treatment to remove tags.

Lesions

Lesions are a blanket term for other types of blemishes that may appear on the skin, including unwanted moles. While some lesions are benign, others may have unusual features that indicate precancerous cellular activity. Ignoring sudden lesions on the skin can present serious health concerns, since some lesions may be an indicator of certain types of skin cancer. This is particularly true for lesions that are scaly or bleed.

What Are Common Mole Removal Techniques?

There are several techniques that can be used for mole removal. Your dermatologist will make the best recommendation for your mole removal treatment based on the size, location, and type of abnormal growth you want to remove. Most of the time, a single treatment will be effective enough to remove the entire mole. The most common techniques include:

Excision Removal

Excision is one of the simplest mole removal methods and is frequently used to biopsy suspicious moles. Excision removal will involve cutting the mole out of the skin, usually with a scalpel or another specialized tool. The process of excision removal will include applying a local anesthetic to the mole to make your treatment comfortable. Your excision will be closed with stitches, which can then be removed after about one week.

Shave Removal

Shave removal is a technique that is similar to excision removal, but is typically used on raised skin growths such as skin tags. A scalpel will be used to shave the unwanted growth from the surface of the skin. Again, for this technique, a topical anesthetic will be applied to the skin to ensure your comfort while the mole or other unwanted growth is being shaved away. Usually, stitches are not necessary for this method.

Laser Removal

Laser removal may be an appropriate option for moles or blemishes that are small and non-cancerous, such as dark spots, post-acne marks, and other blemishes. Laser removal can be used on most skin types and skin tones. Treatment appointments for laser removal may be as long as 15 to 30 minutes; you may also require multiple treatments to fully remove unwanted blemishes from the skin.

Freeze Removal

Freeze removal is another excellent technique for non-cancerous moles and unwanted growths. Sometimes used for skin tags and surface skin moles, freeze removal uses liquid nitrogen to destroy the unwanted growth of skin cells. After several days, the mole will naturally fall off as new skin cells regenerate beneath the frozen skin.

Can Multiple Moles Be Removed At Once?

If you want to remove multiple moles or blemishes, treatments such as laser removal are most appropriate. Removing multiple moles is most appropriate when you are certain the moles are non-cancerous.

How Are Cancerous Moles Detected?

Aside from a dermatologist assessing a mole for asymmetry, unusual borders, uneven color, and large diameter, a cancerous lesion can also be detected with a biopsy. For abnormal skin growths, a punch biopsy or excision technique is most often used to collect a sample that can be looked at in a lab. The lab will examine the sample under a microscope, and you will usually receive news about the results in a week.

Why Is It Better To Fully Remove a Mole?

Even if your dermatologist isn’t sure you have a precancerous lesion after a visual assessment, your dermatologist will still likely recommend an excision technique to fully remove the mole. It’s always best to remove a mole or abnormal growth that is suspected to be precancerous instead of leaving it because skin cancer can evolve very quickly. Fully removing a mole during a biopsy may be able to prevent the spread of precancerous cells and reduce the risk of developing cancer in the future.

Explore Your Mole Removal Treatment Options Today

Whether you were born with a beauty mark or you want to remove an abnormal growth that makes you feel self-conscious about your appearance, there are several techniques that can be used to remove blemishes. A consultation with a dermatologist will identify the mole removal treatment that is most appropriate for your skin concern. Contact Prizant Dermatology in Pittsburgh, PA to schedule a consultation today.

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